Rwanda vs England 22:00
Uruguay vs Canada 01:00
Uruguay vs Rwanda 22:00
Canada vs England 01:00
Uruguay vs England 22:00 (Torreon)
Canada vs Rwanda 22:00 (Pachuca)
I’m praying, just like millions of Rwandans that the national television, RTV will show live matches from the Fifa Under 17 World Cup, which gets underway today June 18, 2011 in Mexico.
Because, if they don’t, most Rwandans without Dstv, will not be able to see the Junior Wasps making their debut appearance at the finals of the World Cup—reason being, the matches will be played late at night.
The first matches will be starting at 10pm local time, while the last matches will be kicking off past 1 am.
For people without Dstv, Rwanda television would be the only option, yet minus the national television showing the games, very few Rwandans will be able to watch the tournament since not many fans will be too enthusiastic sitting in bars until those late hours, unless the junior wasps make a blistering start.
On paper, Rwanda is the least fancied to progress from group H, which also has England, Uruguay and Canada, but since football is not played on paper but rather on the field, it would be foolhardy to write off Richard Tardy’s team even before a ball in kicked in competitive anger in Mexico.
The tournament officially begins this evening with four matches on card, two in Group A and another two in Group B. Hosts Mexico take on Korea DPR (South Korea) in the opening match in Morelia, which will be followed by the clash between France taking on Argentina in the first match of Group B in Monterrey.
The other game scheduled for the opening day will be (Group A) match between Congo and the Netherlands in Morelia and Japan against Jamaica in Group B in Monterrey.
The 14th edition of the youth world cup will be played in seven cities; Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Morelia, Torreon, Pachuca, Queretaro. The third place playoff and the final will be played at the main city of Mexico City (Estadio Azteca) on July 10.
Whether Rwanda can last the full length of the tournament remains to be seen, and we can’t bet on that but one thing one can take a gamble on, is the team’s chances of upsetting the odds and progress from the group.
Good news as far as Rwanda is concerned is that none of the team’s in the Junior Wasps’ group is a actually a world beater or has any records to brag about, leave alone sending chills through the stomachs of their rivals—not even England can send fear into any opponent.
Both England and Uruguay and renowned footballing nations, both regulars at the senior World Cup, yet at the youth level, both have done nothing or little to suggest that Rwanda or Canada cannot competently give them a ride for their monies.
Canada, just like Rwanda are a third world in terms of football standards, both not household names in world football and therefore both can shock their most illustrious opponents in their group.
Nigeria and Brazil are the most successful teams in the tournament’s history, with three titles on their names each. Ghana are the second most successful with two titles. Yet, of the trio, only Brazil qualified for this year’s edition.
In 2009, Nigeria hosted and lost in the final to Switzerland, who too didn’t make the cut for the Mexico tournament. A total of 24 teams from all Fifa confederations will take part.
If Brazil, France or Mexico manages to win this year’s tournament, there will be a new name emblazoned on the winner’s trophy as all the other remaining 21teams including Rwanda have never won it.
And in any case, history favors African teams since the continent, despite lagging behind at the senior level, is ironically the most successful Fifa zone at this level (U16, before it was turned U17 in 2007) with five winners, Nigeria (3) and Ghana(2). African teams have finished runner ups another five times.
Only one team, the United States of America has appeared at all the finals since the tournament started in 1985. Brazil has appeared 12 times, Argentina and Australia 10 times.
Burkina Faso is the most experienced of the four African representatives, the Baby Stallions will be making their fourth appearance at the championship. Both Ivory Coast and Congo have been there before.
Bad news for Rwanda
Going into the championship for the first time, Rwanda needed to have all their top guns available and ready rock, but that won’t be possible after defender Faustin Usengimana was ruled out of the opening game against England tomorrow with a knew injury.
The Rayon Sports centre back is by the far the most experienced member on Richard Tardy’s squad and without him in the team; the opening game will become even harder to win.
The 17-year-old towering defender was a key figure for the team during the Africa Junior championship played in Kigali earlier in the year.
His partnership with team captain Emery Bayisenga was probably the best during the two-week long tournament where, as hosts, Rwanda reached the final only to lose to Burkina Faso for the ultimate prize.
Whether he recovers in time for the second game against Uruguay scheduled for Wednesday, we only have to wait to hear the extent of his injury, nonetheless, England, also just making their debut at the championship, will be there for the beating, but only if Tardy sets out his team to play without any complex and or fear.