Preview: Abdul Rwatubyaye and Rwanda close out AFCON qualifying Saturday at Ivory Coast

Rwanda at Ivory Coast
2019 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifying | Group H
Saturday, March 23 | Noon CT | beIN SPORTS
Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny | Abidjan, Ivory Coast

Newly acquired Sporting Kansas City defender Abdul Rwatubyaye has traveled across the Atlantic to join the Rwanda Men’s National Team for a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Ivory Coast on Saturday at Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny in the Ivorian capital of Abidjan.

The match will air live at noon CT on beIN SPORTS as Rwanda concludes its Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign, having already been eliminated from Group H contention.

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. First-place Guinea and second-place Ivory Coast have already sealed their passage to this summer’s Africa Cup of Nation as the top two teams in the group.

2019 AFCON QUALIFYING: GROUP H

# TEAM PTS W L T GF GA GD
1 Guinea (Q) 11 3 0 2 8 4 +4
2 Ivory Coast (Q) 8 2 1 2 9 5 +4
3 Central African Republic (E) 5 1 2 2 4 8 -4
4 Rwanda (E) 2 0 3 2 5 9 -4

No. 135 in the latest FIFA rankings, Rwanda ventures to face a 66th-ranked Ivory Coast outfit that features the likes of Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha, AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie, Manchester United center back Eric Bailly and Tottenham fullback Serge Aurier.

Rwatubyaye is one of seven players on the Wasps’ 27-man squad who plays professional soccer outside of Rwanda. The team is led by head coach Vincent Mashami, who was appointed in August 2018 after serving as a youth national team coach for the Wasps and the manager of Rwandan side APR FC, where Rwatubyaye won two league titles in 2015 and 2016.

A native of the Rwandan capital of Kigali, Rwatubyaye signed for Sporting in February 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 qualifying.

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