Sporting KC defender Abdul Rwatubyaye to join Rwanda for AFCON qualifier vs. Ivory Coast

Sporting Kansas City defender Abdul Rwatubyaye has been selected to the Rwanda Men’s National Team for a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Ivory Coast on Saturday, March 23, at Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny in the Ivorian capital of Abidjan. The match will kick off at noon CT as Rwanda concludes its Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign, having already been eliminated from Group H contention.

Rwatubyaye will join the Rwandan squad following Sporting’s road match at the Colorado Rapids this Sunday at 8 p.m. CT. The St. Patrick’s Day fixture will air live on FOX Sports Kansas City and FOX Sports Midwest Plus as well as ESPN 95.3 FM and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM.

A native of Kigali, Rwanda, Rwatubyaye joined Sporting last month after spending the previous three seasons with Rayon Sports FC of the top-flight Rwanda Premier League. In six years as a professional, the defender has won three Rwanda Premier League titles and played 22 matches for the Rwanda Men’s National Team, including appearances in FIFA World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations qualifying.

The center back joined Sporting last month and was an unused substitute in both of the team's wins this week at Children's Mercy Park, a 2-0 decision against the Philadelphia Union on Sunday and a 3-0 defeat of Independiente on Thursday in the Concacaf Champions League.

On the international stage, Rwatubyaye has represented Rwanda at the U-17, U-20, U-23 and senior levels. He was first selected to Rwanda’s senior national team in November 2015 for a pair of 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Libya. He made his Rwanda debut two weeks later at the 2015 CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup, helping the Wasps reach the tournament final, prior to scoring his first international goal in a 1-1 draw against Cameroon in January 2016.

That same month, Rwatubyaye and Rwanda notched upset wins over Gabon and Ivory Coast before falling to eventual champion Congo in the 2016 African Nations Championship.

Rwatubyaye has started each of Rwanda’s last four matches during 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying, most recently helping the Wasps earn draws against Guinea and Central African Republic last November.