2nd semi-final - Amahoro Stadium
Ivory Coast 0-1 Rwanda
EVEN after exceeding local expectations and stunning the football world by qualifying for their first ever Fifa World Cup, the junior wasps still had plenty to offer in yesterday’s Caf U-17 Championship semi-final against Ivory Coast at Amahoro stadium.
The youngsters spurred on by thousands of home fans including his excellency President Paul Kagame, set up a Burkina Faso date in the final after a well deserved 1-0 victory over the West Africans.
Striker Justin Mico scored the goal on the 72nd minute after pouncing on a Bon Fils Kabanda free kick. Rwanda will now play Burkina Faso in Saturday’s final at Amahoro Stadium.
In the opening minutes, Ivory Coast was the better side, with skipper Noel Jean Yobou testing Rwanda’s goal keeper Marcel Nzarora on a number of occasions.
But the home side, which was playing without inspirational captain Emery Bayisenge, improved after the break. Stand in captain Faustin Usengimana and Heritier Turatsinze were rock solid at the back keeping Ivory Coast’s striking pair Jean Evrand Kouassi and Drissa Diarrassouba at bay.
After several half chances, Rwanda finally broke the deadlock with 18 minutes to play when Mico volleyed Kabanda’s free kick past a static Ivory Coast goal keeper Ouattara Aboubakar.
In addition time, Tibingana could have doubled Rwanda’s lead but shot wide with only the keeper to beat.
After the game, a happy Richard Tardy said, “I am very proud of my boys. They have beaten one of the best sides in the competition.”
“We didn’t start well but improved as the game went on. I also want to commend Turatsinze. He played well,” the Junior Wasps head coach added.
It was Ivory Coast’s first defeat in the competition and did not go down well with the side’s head coach Alain Goumana.
“We were second best today and Rwanda deserved to win because they were better than us.”
Before Saturday’s final, Ivory Coast and Congo Brazzaville will face off in a third place play-off at Kigali Regional Stadium.