The youngest team in the 2022 Women’s African Cup of Nations, the choice of Burundi has an average age of 20 years. A striker is even 14 years old. A choice made by the Burundian leadership, who came to Morocco in particular to cultivate a new generation of female football players.
From our special correspondent in Rabat,
Long shorts, oversized jerseys with puffy sleeves … Some Burundian players seemed to be wearing the wrong clothes during the first match in the history of the women’s national team in the final phase of the African Cup of Nations (4-2 loss to Botswana). A biased impression. Because the swallows show the youngest average age for CAN 2022: 20 years and 5 months.
In the Burundian workforce, there are thus 9 players out of the 26 who are 18 years and younger. One of them – striker Gloris Gakiza – is … 14 years old. “It is true that we are young. But there is only age in football,” smiles Peace Olga Niyomwungere, who came to answer journalists, from the height of her 16 feathers.
A situation that coach Gustave Niyonkuru completely assumed. “It is a choice for our country,” he emphasized, at a pre-match press conference. We are preparing for the future. This is our first participation in CAN. It allows us to test young players to prepare them for future matches.
Match of extremes against the South Africans. On the other hand, the technician does not want to take refuge behind this excuse to justify the many mistakes that made Batswana able to win, especially since the owners were a little older. “This is a mistake we hope to correct,” he said. It’s true that my players need to be framed. They’re still young, yes. But it is only to repeat and repeat to assimilate things ”.
And we must be well prepared for the next stage, South Africa, vice champions in Africa and who have stars who have competed in the Olympics and the World Cup such as Thembi Kgtalana, Janine van Wyk or even Noko Matlou. Peace Olga Niyomwungere can also be their daughter. But she is especially happy to be their opponent for one night. – It is an honor to play against them. Especially since they are great professionals. I hope we will do well. That’s why I’m here, at CAN, and I want to do my best. I want to be like them, she slips after posing for photos.