Rwanda face England tonight, Sunday 19 June, in the U17 World Cup in Mexico. My friends and colleagues Claudio von Planta and Sorious Samura are with the team in Mexico filming their progress. Claudio sent me this brief report on how Faustin Usengimana, who plays as defender for the Junior Wasps, is feeling after he was injured in practice days before the team’s biggest ever fixture,
What went through your head when you got injured during training on the 16th June?
I was devastated, thinking about letting down the team and I was very upset thinking about all the amazing opportunities I will miss.
How do you feel now, 2 days later and you can already walk again?
I’m relieved, the team doctors did a great job. Lots of physiotherapy, day and night and after the first night I didn’t need my crutches anymore. With a bit of luck I might be back on the pitch on the 22nd or at least on the 25th against Canada. I certainly feel much more optimistic than 2 days ago.
How did the rest of the team react?
They were very supportive. They came and visited me in my room all the time and made every possible effort to cheer me up. I know they will fight even harder in the first match against England to make up for my absence. I really appreciate the support of the team – they are amazing.
Following the England fixture, the team will face Uruguay on the 22nd and Canada on the 25th. The BBC Sport website has a good run down of all the African teams involved in the competition, including Rwanda,
Rwanda seemed to have earned themselves the dream match for most African teams since they will facing England – in their very first game.
Even at this level, the influence of English domestic football alone will be enough to bring the whole of Rwanda to a standstill.
Mexico 2011 is certainly a big occasion for the country – as it will be Rwanda’s first appearance at a Fifa World Cup finals.
The Junior Wasps booked their place in Mexico when finishing runners-up to Burkina Faso at the African Under-17 Championship on home soil in January.
Rwanda’s preparations under French coach Richard Tardy have been intensive, incorporating training tours of England, France, Germany and the United States.
The trips gave Tardy the opportunity of inviting Rwandan youngsters enrolled with European sides to fight for a place in his World Cup squad.
He has strengthened his squad with the inclusion of Arsenal youth team striker Alfred Mugabo, France-based Bonfils Kabanda of Nancy and defender Jean Marie Rusingizandekwe of Belgian side Malines.
There are also places for Andrew Buteera and Mwesigye Tibingana, who are both based in neighbouring Uganda with the Proline Academy. link
Photographs by Claudio von Planta.
– Sorious Samura encouraging injured Faustin Usengimana
– Robert Ndatimana and the Rwanda U17 team walking into the stadium in Pachuca
– Entry to the Stadium
– Sorious Samura talking to Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture (left), Ambassador James Kimonyo (middle) and Rwanda FA president Brig General Jean Bosco Kazura (right) – inside the Pachuca stadium
UPDATE: After a fairly decent first half, Rwanda eventually conceded two goals in the second half. They ended up losing to England 2 – 0. The second English goal was a stunning strike from Raheem Sterling,