AFCON 2023: Kigali’s BK Arena vibrates like in Côte d’Ivoire – At a glance

Kigali’s BK Arena, renowned for its basketball, has been vibrating to the rhythm of soccer since the quarter-finals. Team supporters are currently gathering at this venue in Remera. They support their teams as if they were in Abidjan.

On Wednesday February 07, during the AFCON 2023 semi-final between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Côte d’Ivoire, nationals of these two countries, as well as Rwandans living in Remera, a large commercial city, were out in force to follow the clash.

The Congolese, who outnumbered the Ivorians in Rwanda, followed the match, singing as they like to do. Some of them had brought drums and were vigorously cheering on their team. At half-time, they were hopeful of winning.

Even though they were outnumbered by the Congolese, the Ivorians raised their voices, especially when their team approached the opposition camp. In the 65th minute, Sébastien Haller’s goal had the effect of a sledgehammer on the Congolese fans, who fell completely silent. Despite their numerical inferiority, the Ivorians made themselves heard. Every time their team took the ball, they shouted as if the echo of their din could be heard all the way to Abidjan.

In spite of everything, the atmosphere in the BK Arena was one of good cheer. Post-match emotions“We knew we were going to win. God was with us. Our coach is very good, unlike the other one who was really mediocre (Gasset, editor’s note). With our coach, I swear the cup will stay at home. I’d like to thank the Rwandan authorities for arranging this area for the fans,” a delighted Elephants fan told Sport News Africa. A young Ivorian girl was also ecstatic. “I’m really super happy. I was scared, but thank God we won. The DRC gave me a fright because they play very well, but our team did the essential. Hats off to the organizers who put us in a very airy space. I like the way it’s organized.

A Chadian fan of the Elephants was also very happy after the match.

“I’m an Ivory Coast fan right up to the end. I love this country, just as I love Rwanda. Thank you Kigali, thank you very much. We haven’t qualified for the AFCON, but I hope we’ll be in Morocco incha’Allah. Frankly, it was a great evening.


A Belgian supporter of Côte d’Ivoire looks ahead to the final, speaking to SNA.“Côte d’Ivoire was slightly superior, good match, Côte d’Ivoire against Nigeria in the final, I can’t wait to see that match.Most of the fans were pro-Congolese, but in the end we went through. I’m a fan of this team and I think we’re going to win this competition. The Ivorian players have an incredible fighting spirit. We’ve had festivities with the Congolese, the Ivorians and the Rwandans, and it’s an exceptionally good mix. As a European expatriate, we really enjoyed it.


Congolese sadness

On the Congolese side, the mood was one of sadness.“I’m very down.Since the start of the competition, we’ve played some good matches. We’re proud to have reached this stage of the competition and we hope we’ll win against South Africa to go home with at least one medal. I’d like to thank Rwanda for putting us in good conditions despite the conflict between our two countries. We feel right at home. As a student, I’ve never had any problems because I’m Congolese. What happens back home is nobody’s business but the politicians’.

The final promises to be electric at the BK Arena. Football fans who were there told SNA that they will be inviting their friends to fill the hall for a dream final.

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