Niyongabire Nets Burundi Call Up
New Valour FC forward Pacifique Niyongabire has been called to Burundian national team duty for a friendly tune-up in late March.
The 23-year-old is a new Valour reinforcement who arrived by way of Australian A-League side Perth Glory FC, for whom he made 17 appearances last season. He’s also a fairly recent addition to the Burundi national team, having made his debut against the Ivory Coast in November before scoring in a friendly win over the Guinea U-23 side.
The March international window was originally set to see Burundi cross swords with Kenya twice and Indonesia once, but there’s been some late drama as had to cancel both of its matches against the Swallows of Burundi after the Kenyan side refused to play in Indonesia. The matches were set to be the first FIFA matches Kenya were to play following a FIFA ban one year ago, with the team eventually sourcing a tilt against Iran instead.
Instead, Niyongabire and his Burundian squadmates will face Indonesia twice on March 25 and 28. Burundi will be in Indonesia for both matches, though the venues have yet to be announced.
The new Valour FC forward turned professional through a scholarship contract with A-League side Adelaide United back in 2018, with Niyongabire making his debut against Sydney FC that January. It’d be a long wait for his next opportunity with the senior side, however, with Niyongabire not featuring again until 2020, when he came off the bench to score a goal against the Perth Glory.
He’d go on to notch two more assists in 24 appearances before being picked up by the team he’d scored against in September 2021, making 17 appearances for Perth before Valour scooped him up ahead of the 2023 CPL season.
It’s been quite a rebuild for Phillip Dos Santos and his Winnipeg-based team, with thirteen new faces in and twelve players from last season departing. The club will be hoping to finally crack playoffs after an expansion to the postseason format, and how international recruits like Niyongabire contribute will go a long way in determining that.
Niyongabire won’t be the only Canadian Premier League athlete on national team duty, with York United’s Brem Soumaoro set to suit up for Liberia and Mo Babouli called to Syria, Valour’s Andrew Jean-Baptiste called up to Haiti, and former CPL talents Victor Loturi and Dominick Zator both being called up by Canada.