Aigle Noir of Burundi arrives in Nairobi with full bag of tricks

Thursday, August 22nd, 2019 00:00 |
Arakaza Meshack and Joel Baptiste of Burundi’s Aigle Noir FC arrive at JKIA ahead of Sunday’s CAF Champions League match against Gor Mahia. Photo/PD/DAVID NDOLO

A wary Aigle Noir of Burundi arrived in Nairobi yesterday ready for the CAF Champions League preliminary return match against Kenyan champions Gor Mahia at Kasarani Stadium on Sunday.

The visitors’ contingent of 18 players and five officials landed at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) shortly after midday and appeared in a sedate mood contrary to their nickname, Fighters.

Three players in the squad including Nijimbere Thierry, Alain Ndikumana and Ciza Thierry were in the Burundi national team that played at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.

Head coach Joceline Bipfubusa is cautious ahead of the game, saying they were out to salvage some pride after spurning several scoring chances in the first leg match at Urukundo Stadium in Bujumbura which ended in a barren draw.

“Victory comes from God but we hope to give them (Gor) a good match and hopefully eliminate them. There was an electric atmosphere in Bujumbura where we dominated and created more chances and I was disappointed that we failed to translate any into goals. I hope my players will rise to the occasion on foreign soil,” said Bipfubusa who is one of the youngest tacticians in Burundi at 35 years.

He boasts of vast experience, having previously handled the national Under-23 and 20 sides as well as club sides Inter Star and Messager Ngozi.

Team captain Seydou Keita, who was born of Malian father and Burundian mother, equally sounded cautious, saying a win can go either way.

“Gor is a good team and the match is unpredictable. Both teams are balanced in as far as the score line is concerned and I expect a tough game,” said Keita.

Gor will be meeting Aigle Noir with the disadvantage of missing right-back Philemon Otieno, who has been ruled out for three months after sustaining a ligament injury, while playing for Harambee Stars in the Africa Nations Championships (CHAN) against Tanzania.

That leaves central defender Joash Onyango, fresh from being crowned 2018/19 KPL Most Valuable Player, as the man to lead them from the back. 

An outright win for Gor will secure them a place in the first round of the money spinning competition while a scoring draw will all but end their campaign as Aigle Noir will advance on the strength of away goals.

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