The Kenyan Premier League has produced a total of 3 players for the Burundi national team- The Swallows, ahead of their first ever Africa Cup of Nations appearance. Sofapaka has Moussa Omar and goalkeeper Justin Ndikumana in while Gor Mahia’s Mustapha Francis makes the cut in the highly competitive midfield.
The KPL connection does not end here as three other players in the Swallows squad have been here- Kenya, before- and will be part of the team in Egypt.
Fiston Abdul-Razak was Sofapaka’s most expensive export in 2015 while Karim Nzigiyimana won the league with Gor Mahia in the same year. The third, a goalkeeper, Arakaza Mc Arthur spent a little time in Kakamega with Homeboyz in the 2017 KPL season before heading to Zambia.
Known for his quick reflexes between the sticks, Arakaza- currently turning out for Lusaka Dynamos in Zambia, says the brief Kenyan stay helped him grow a little.
”Kenya was great even if it was short. There was a lot of competition even at Homeboyz and that means the league generally is competitive,” says the shot-stopper.
With youthful keeper Justine Ndikumana also added to the squad, Arakaza says this is more proof as to why the KPL is a good place.
”It’s a good place to develop as a player and if you look at the players we have from the KPL, they are good in their clubs.We have a good squad for the AFCON and we will compete well with everyone,” he concludes.
The 23 year old is expected to compete for a starting place with Nahimana Jonathan and Ndikumana.
Their squad is largely drawn from leagues within the continent, the Zambian Super League also playing a huge factor to the squad. The Swallows are placed in Group B and have Nigeria, Madagascar and Guinea.
Goalkeepers: Jonathan Nahimana, Justin Ndikumana, Arthur Mc Arakaza.
Defenders: Frederic Nsabiyumva, Moussa Omar, David Nshimirimana, Ngando Omar, Christophe Nduwarugira, Karim Nzigiyimana.
Midfielders: Pierre Kwizera, Gael Bigirimana, Gael Duhayindavyi, Mustapha Francis, Enock Nsabumukama, Shassir Nahimana.
Strikers: Fiston Abdoul-Razak, Saido Berahino, Mohamed Amissi, Cedric Amisi, Shabani Hussein, Elvis Kamsoba, Laudit Mavugo, Selemani Ndikumana