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Ndikumana hopeful

Sofapaka keeper Ndikumana banks on Tunisia duel to get playing time in Egypt

In Summary

• Burundi will be making their debut at the continental tournament set to kick off in a week’s time

Sofapaka gloveman is psyched up to beat competition from the other two shot-stoppers eyeing similar roles.

Sofapaka's Justin Ndikumana after winning SJAK Footballer of the Month award in March
Sofapaka's Justin Ndikumana after winning SJAK Footballer of the Month award in March
Image: / ERICK BARASA

Sofapaka first-choice goalkeeper and Burundian Justin Ndikumana is banking on his yesterday’s start against Tunisia to nail down the starting roles at the African Cup of Nations.

Ndikumana has been playing second fiddle to experienced and Tanzanian-based Jonathan Nahimana but he is confident his start yesterday against Tunisia at the Rades Stadium, Tunis will inspire him to fully topple the latter.

Burundi will be making their debut at the continental tournament set to kick off in a week’s time and the Sofapaka gloveman is psyched up to beat competition from the other two shot-stoppers eyeing similar roles.

Coach Olivier Niyungeko while naming his squad roped in former Kakamega Homeboyz goalkeeper MacArthur Akaraza, who plays in the Zambian league, eliciting competition for playing time in the department but Ndikumana draws inspiration from tactician’s faith in yesterday’s match for playing time in Egypt.

Niyungeko preferred Nahimana during the qualifiers where the East African country finished second in Pool ‘C’ of the qualifying campaign. However, Ndikumana termed his start ahead of the two as an indication that he will get playing time in Egypt. Burundi are placed in Pool ‘B’ alongside former champions Nigeria, regulars Guinea and fellow debutants Madagascar.

“I am hoping that yesterday’s start against Tunisia will give the coach reasons to start me in Egypt. There is a lot of competition for playing time as the other custodians want to play at Afcon.

Nahimana is experienced while Akaraza plays in a competitive league and I think the department is one of the strong pillars of the team. I am looking forward to the tournament, where I endeavour to give my best should the coach decide to use me.”

Burundi, who have been camping in Doha for the past weeks, arrived in  Tunisia last week in preparation for their second and final friendly match ahead of the finals. Last week, they held Algeria to a one-all draw, where Ndikumana made it to the bench. On the other hand, his teammate at Sofapaka Mousa Omar clocked 90 minutes.

The team which is set to jet to Egypt today feature revered Stars including Stoke City striker Said Berahino, long-serving midfielder Gael Bigirimana and former Sofapaka forward Fiston Abdoul Razak who emerged the third best scorer during the qualifiers.