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Jeannot Ndayishimiye, center, celebrates after scoring a goal for Burundi in the final minutes of Saturday's match. Photo Ari Snider/Maine Public

 

Barely fifteen minutes into a recent soccer match between the Burundian and Rwandan communities in Portland, Evrard Ngabirano already had a lot of celebrate.

"We got a second goal on our side, the Burundian team," Ngabirano said with a big smile.

While the event was billed as a friendly matchup, the game itself was competitive.

"You know any competition you always want to win," said Burundi assistant coach Thierry Ndabahagamye. "So nobody wants to lose."

The two teams last met over the summer, and Ndabahagamye said Burundi came out on top.

Over the Rwandan side of the field, however, team captain Leopold Ndaysabye remembered things differently.

"No no no they never [beat] us," Ndaysabye insisted. "Maybe it’s gonna be today but they never, never [beat] us."

For Sandrine Muhinkwenyere, who came to watch the game, it's not about the final score.

"The ultimate goal is not to win or something, but it’s to be together, have [a] good time together," Muhinkwenyere said. "It just warms up our hearts to see our community together."

While the winner of the last game was still a disputed subject, Ndaysabye said there’s no questioning the kinship between the two communities.

"Oh we do have the same culture actually, it’s just the same culture," Ndaysabye said. "And even the language, it’s, I would say the same, different accent."

Thierry Mugabe, president of the Burundian Community Association of Maine and one of the organizers of today’s match, agreed.

"We are brothers from back home in Africa," Mugabe said.

Mugabe works in public health, and said the soccer game was also an opportunity for COVID-19 outreach. He was offering rapid tests right there on the sidelines, and had planned a postgame reception to highlight the importance of vaccines.

"Especially COVID-19 vaccines," he said. "So that we can protect ourselves but also protect our community members as well as Mainers."

As Burundi headed into the second half leading four to nothing, Odilon Irambona, who spent most of the game racing up and down the sidelines waving a Burundian flag, was all smiles.

"This feels like back home," he said. "Because this is what we grew up watching, this is what we grew up doing."

Between players and spectators, there were about hundred people at the field that day. Irambona said it’s a rare occasion to get so many people from the community together.

"Most people work two, even three jobs, so it’s hard to see each other every day," he said.

Given the stress and pressures that many community members face while building a life in Maine, Burundi assistant coach Thierry Ndabahagamye said games like this one are important for everyone’s mental health.

"So to have a day like this, we’re out, and [talking], it’s very good," he said.

Rwanda did come back to score three goals in the second half, but Burundi added four to come away with an 8-3 victory.

Buoyed by a decisive win, team Burundi launched into an impromptu rendition of their country’s national anthem. It was a spontaneous moment of national pride before they joined the Rwandans for a postgame celebration. - Ari Snider, Maine Public

Pyramids draw with Azam away in the first leg of the Confederation Cup second preliminary round (Photo: the club s official Twitter account)

 

Egypt's Pyramids FC played out a 0-0 draw away to Tanzania's Azam in the first leg of the African Confederation Cup second preliminary round on Saturday.

Chances were at a premium in a dull affair, but Pyramids will still be favourites to advance when they host Azam in the second leg next week.

Both sides had some half-chances before Pyramids wasted the game's best opportunity just past the half-hour mark.

A cross from Ahmed Fathi eluded the defence and looked to be on its way to the net, only for defender Edward Manyama to clear it off the line.

Pyramids had to make two unscripted substitutions due to injuries.

Winger Eslam Eissa was replaced for Palestinian striker Mahmoud Wadi in the first half before the latter was also injured on 59 minutes, making way for Mohamed El-Gabbas.

Pyramids are making their third Confederation Cup appearance, having reached the final in 2020 and the semis last season. - Ahram Online

Photo Confederation of African Football

 

The return leg of the second round of the qualifiers for the U-20 FIFA Women’s World Cup Costa Rica 2022 takes place across the African continent.

Below are the latest results:

South Africa 3-2 Mozambique

Asanda Hadebe's hat-trick (13 ’, 29’, 82 ’) was a big part of South Africa’s success over Mozambique in the second leg. Elsa Mulingandale’s brace for Mozambique side (17 ’, 40’) also gave the visitors a chance to believe until the end.

The South Africans finally won by an aggregate score of 4-2 thanks to a 1-0 victory in the first leg.

Namibia 0-2 Burundi

Burundi's Swallows remained effective in securing a second victory over their opponents from Namibia.

Divine Nihorimbire's brace (15 ’, 20’) at Dobsonville tadium in Johannesburg was enough for the visitors to bring their tally to 5-0 over both legs.

Namibia had to play their home game in South Africa in the absence of an approved stadium on their territory.

Uganda 3-1 Kenya

The step was too high for Kenya who suffered a big setback in the first leg losing 7-2. Going back, Uganda knew that the main job would be to maintain the previously gained advantage.

But it was Uganda who set the tone as Margaret Kunihira opened the scoring in the 15th minute. In a burst of pride, Kenya responded with Peris Oside six minutes later.

In the 38th minute, Hadijah Nandago gave the Crested Cranes the lead again, before Juliet Nalukenge scored Uganda's third goal late in the game.

Uganda advance with an aggregate 10-3.

Senegal 1 - 1 Mali

Senegal were held at the Lat-Dior stadium in Thiès by Mali, but still managed to advance thanks to their away success two weeks earlier.

Les Lioncelles prevail by an aggregate score of 5-3 and advance to the third round.

The others qualified are Nigeria, Ethiopia, Gabon and Ghana.

The rest of the program will take place on Saturday with Congo vs. Egypt or Cameroon vs. DR Congo among others. - Confederation of African Football

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