World Cup 2018 qualifiers: Seychelles loses first leg match 1-0 against Burundi
Action of the match between Seychelles and Burundi at Stad Linite on Wednesday. (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Playing home at Stad Linite, the Seychelles main stadium on the outskirts of the capital of Victoria, the Indian Ocean archipelago's national football team lost its first leg match against Burundi in the first round qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup finals, to be held in Russia from June 14 to July 15, 2018.
Burundi ranked 113th worldwide and 34th in Africa, according to the world’s football governing body, FIFA’s latest ranking table, walked away with the only goal of the match.
The goal came very early in the 18 minute of the first half, scored by Fiston Abdul Razak who also plays for South African Club Mamelodi Sundowns.
The Seychelles side had gone into the match in high spirit after having put up a good fight in its last international encounter holding Ethiopia to a 1-1 draw in the 2017 African Cup of Nations (CAN 2017) qualifiers last month.
In spite of Wednesday's loss, newly appointed coach of the Seychelles national team Ralph Jean-louis said the result was acceptable, as the team had only been together for less than a week.
|Burundi scored the winning goal very early into the match in the 18th minute. (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
“We are missing a lot of our players in the defense but we still went into the game…having lost the match 1-0 we are disappointed, but the result is not impossible to overcome,” Jean-Louis told SNA.
“The main constraint was cohesion; not all players understand each other as they had only 3 days to adapt. We have new players in the team who have what it takes and the willingness to play but it will take time for us to have a team that is more coherent and can adapt with each other.”
Wednesday’s match was in fact a replay for Seychelles and Burundi as the two sides met in the qualifying round for the FIFA World Cup 2010.
The Seychelles team, which is currently ranked 184th worldwide and 49th in Africa, according to the FIFA ranking will now head to Burundi’s capital of Bujumbura next week, for the second leg of the first qualifying round.
“We have the next five days to readjust and if there is the need we will call additional players, because the opportunity to qualify [for the second qualifying round] is still possible,” added Jean-Louis.
|The Seychelles national team will be heading to Burundi next week for the second leg match. (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
For the Burundian coach Ahcene Ait Abdelmalek, the result achieved by his team also nicknamed ‘Les hirondelles dans la guerre’ [the Swallows in the war] is acceptable as he said they came with the intention of getting a good result even if that happened to be a draw.
“We were lucky to score a goal in the first half, which gave us more courage and confidence to manage the match in general,” Abdelmalek told SNA.
Nevertheless the Burundian coach had some good things to say about the Seychellois players.
“The match was not easy because the Seychelles team had already shown some good qualities against Ethiopia. The Seychelles team has some good individual skills the chances however were not on their side, which will make the return match really interesting in Burundi.”
|For Burundi the 1-0 win is acceptable as they came with the intention of getting a good result even if it was a draw.(Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
The return leg in Burundi will be played next Tuesday October 13 with the kickoff scheduled for 3pm Seychelles time.
Seychelles is among 53 African nations that are set to battle for a spot in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
In the first qualifying round, 26 teams will be playing on a two-legged basis, at the end of which the 13 winners will proceed to the second round where they will be joined by 27 other highest ranked teams on the continent.
The second qualifying round will take place between November 9 to 17, 2015.
The third and last round which will feature the 20 winning teams divided in five teams of four will be played between October 3, 2017 to November, 14, 2017 which will see the five top African teams qualify for the World Cup finals.