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Stallions trample Wasps to win U17 Cup
A 10-man Burkina Faso braved the chants of a hostile capacity crowd and a late Wasps surge to beat hosts Rwanda 2-1 in a tantalizing final match of the 9th CAF African U17 Championship at the Amahoro stadium in Kigali.
The result was a replica of the opening match of the championship only that the Young Stallions reversed it in their favour in a match that had all the drama, brilliance and flair of Africa’s rising talents. There were yellow and red cards flashed; there were tactical shouts and changes characteristic of technical areas and in the end, the final goal of the game and tournament came courtesy of a super strike from Kabore Aziz which left Rwanda goal minder Marcel Nzarora sprawled and the massive home crowd stunned.  Nzarora not only stunned the crowd into silence, he broke the hearts of millions of Rwandese who were glued to their radios and television sets expecting their Wasps to hatch into new African champions. But it was not to be. Instead the Burkinabe had their lucky stars shinning on them as they sealed a famous win to leap to the podium to receive their winners’ medals from President Kagame and CAF chief Issa Hayatou.
Conceded Rwanda trainer Tardy Richard; “I wish to congratulate my Burkina Faso counterpart (coach Rui Vierra Manuel) for playing well. We lost because of two major reasons. We were tired and secondly, we played the game before entering the pitch. There was a lot of pressure on the players and massive expectations which might have affected them. Rwandans are disappointed with the result but it’s a satisfaction because we played a final for the first time and we’re going to the World Cup.”
“We should work hard and make it harder for anybody at the World Cup. We finish second with honour,” Tardy said.
The Burkinabe got their running to the championship when Sanou Zaniou capitalized on a rare defence error by skipper Usengimana Faustin to give the Stallions the lead after 59minutes. The lead was however short-lived as Mwesigye Tibingana volleyed home a sensational strike from outside the box to restore parity in the 67th minute.
With the equalizer and the one-man advantage they were gifted when Angolan referee Martins De Carvalho Helder sent off defender Kanazoe Bassirou on the hour mark, Rwanda tried to get forward and get into the strides of their passing game but the Burkinabe were well organized and solid at the back. Even the sending off of Kana was adjudged to have hit Andrew Butera, did not seem to lift the Wasps into making their numerical advantage count.
Roared on by a capacity and vociferous crowd which included President Kagame and CAF President Hayatou, Rwanda could not find their rhythm which would have enabled them end their fairytale run on a winning note. They were left to rue missed chances by Mico Justin, Usengimana and substitute Mugabo Innocent.
The Burkinabe were however ecstatic with the win especially that they had to withstand intense pressure late into the game as the massive crowd roared their team to keep pressing and keep the ball in the Stallions half.
“Rwanda is a good team and made us to change tactics. We like to put pressure on our opponents from their own half but today we had to try and be clam and start pressing them from the middle of the field,” Vierra Manuel said adding: “it was a nice game and we had good goals in a very good game. I was only saddened with the sending off of our defender Kanazoe Bassirou. But we’re delighted to win especially that when we left Burkina Faso we had promised the people that we would win the Cup. I’m very happy we have done that.”
The opening half was full of end to action with both teams creating numerous chances. But fine goalkeeping and water tight defences ensured that there were not many errors or lapses that would have gifted either side with a lead to take to the half time break.
Seemingly unmoved by the capacity crowd, the Burkinabe went on the offensive from kick-off, Sana Zaniou firing wide inside the first 30minutes as they attempted an early onslaught. But soon both teams settled and got into their stride.
Justin Mico came close twice but could not convert. First when he was face to face with the Young Stallions goalie Seni Ouedraogo and when he was put through by Mwesigye Tibingana.
As the clock towards the half time break, enterprising Burkina play-maker Traore Betrand Isidore fired over late on as he led his Stallions into some neat passing to silence the huge crowd.
But as good as the passing, as the exchanges and end to end action was, the referee sent the two teams to half-time goal less but with the Burkinabe having three yellow cards to think over after bookings for Banaba Romaric, Ili Ibrahim and Faical Ouedraogo for unsporting play and infringements.
The Wasps and home crowd said Tardy would have to take consolation in finishing second in a tournament they exceeded their expectations and went all the way to the final.
“Now we have to prepare well for the World Cup,” Tardy said as the final and closing ceremony of traditional song, dance and performance descended on the Amahoro.

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