Junior Wasps aim to end two-year drought

RWANDA’S U-17 national team (Junior Wasps) go into today’s clash against Ugandan Cubs seeking to end distressing two years of non-qualification to the biggest continental soccer fest.
The National U17 team training in Kampala on Thursday ahead of today's continental qualifying match against Uganda at Namboole stadium. Courtesy.
The National U17 team training in Kampala on Thursday ahead of today's continental qualifying match against Uganda at Namboole stadium. Courtesy.

CAF 2015 U-17 Qualifier:

Today, 1pm

Uganda vs Rwanda

Mozambique vs Angola

Cameroon vs Burkina Faso

Benin vs Mali

Sunday

Zambia vs Botswana

DR Congo vs Nigeria

Togo vs Senegal

Guinea vs Morocco

Libya vs Côte d’Ivoire

Egypt vs Congo

Ethiopia vs Gabon

RWANDA’S U-17 national team (Junior Wasps) go into today’s clash against Ugandan Cubs seeking to end distressing two years of non-qualification to the biggest continental soccer fest.

The match will be played at the Mandela National Stadium, Namboole at 1pm local time, prior to another international match for the seniors where Uganda Cranes hosts Mauritania in a 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier.

Despite having the record to have featured in the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup finals in Mexico, having finished second in the Africa U-17 championship, Rwanda is fielding a completely new and young squad picked from different local academies and from Europe.

In 2013, the Junior Wasps suffered a first round elimination after losing 7-6 on penalties to Botswana after a 1-all aggregate draw.

Meanwhile, their opponent Uganda Cubs, who are just coming off a 5-1 aggregate win over Seychelles last month in a two-legged tie have gained more experience compared to the Rwandan side.

However, head coach Aloys Kanamugire remains optimistic on securing a positive result against Uganda on their home turf.

““We are here to get a good result in the first leg and Uganda should not take us lightly. Though my boys are playing their debutant international match, they have the will and determination to go for a positive result,”

Team skipper Djabil Manishimwe said yesterday, “We are focused and confident on battling Uganda for a win. We are mentally and physically ready to sacrifice our ability for our nation,”

Meanwhile, the Ugandan Cubs the team received a massive boost on Thursday after three of their players recently called to beef up the squad passed the mandatory Magnetic Resonance Imaging test.

Qatar based midfielder, Hassan Ssenyonjo, defender Diego Katumba and 14-year-old striker Ezra Bidda all passed the test to play in this underage competition.

“It’s good news for the reinforcement of the team because they are good players who will add a lot to the team,” Head coach Matia Lule.

Unlike the first round, which saw only a handful of matches as a result of withdrawals by some teams; the second round will see 24 teams in contention for the six slots to join Ghana and Tunisia in the final round following the withdrawal of South Sudan and Sierra Leone respectively.

Elsewhere, Mozambique is against Angola in Maputo, Cameroon versus Burkina Faso in Yaoundé whilst Benin and Mali cross swords in Porto Novo.

Reigning champions, Cote d’Ivoire begins the journey towards a successful defense of the crown against Libya on Sunday at the Olympique Stadium in Tunis, the Tunisian capital due to the current political situation in Libya.

Zambia will host fellow Southerners Botswana in Lusaka, Guinea against Morocco in Conakry whilst Togo squares Senegal at the Municipal Stadium in Lome.

Losing finalists at the last edition in Morocco in 2013, Nigeria travels to Lubumbashi to face DR Congo, Egypt welcomes Congo to Cairo and Ethiopia versus Gabon in Addis Ababa.

The second leg matches will take place on the weekend of 1-3 August 2014, with the winners advancing to the final round.

The final tournament will be held from 15 February to 1 March 2015 in Niger, with the semifinalists qualifying to represent the continent at the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup scheduled for Chile.