Russia, 25 June 2018. Aspire Football Dreams (AFD) graduate Moussa Wague of Senegal scored in his second match at FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 in his national team’s 2-2 draw against Japan on Sunday 24th June during Group H match played in the city of Ekaterinburg. Moussa Wague was in the right place at the right time on 71st minute to brilliantly finish off a three man move with a thumping, rising shot into the net that gave Senegal the lead.
Moussa Wague was in the right place at the right time on 71st minute to brilliantly finish off a three man move with a thumping, rising shot into the net that gave Senegal the lead. Speaking to FIFA.com after scoring, Wague said, “I couldn’t even describe my goal to you, I got on the ball, I saw the goal, I hit it, and I scored. It still feels crazy. My first goal at the World Cup; I couldn’t have dreamed of anything better. The coach has put his faith in me, so I can’t let him down. I had a bad back injury at the start of the season and he rang me a lot to find out how I was doing.”
Nineteen-year-old defender plays his club football for Belgian top-flight league side KAS Eupen and along with fellow Aspire Football dreams graduate, goalkeeper Francis Odinaka Uzoho (19) of Nigeria are the first two AFD graduates to feature at the senior men FIFA World Cup final tournament. There are seven players aged 19 at the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia and two of them are AFD graduates, Wague and Uzoho.
Wague got his World Cup debut off the mark against Poland playing the entire match on Tuesday 19th June, while Uzoho has kept goal for Nigeria in their two matches so far, including a 2-0 win over Iceland on Friday 22nd June. Back in 2014 Wague won the U-17 Al Kass International Cup with Aspire International after beating Real Madrid in the final. He scored one of the spot kicks on the night, team mate and goalkeeper Uzoho stopping the last kick from Javier Carrera to secure the title for Aspire International team.
Wague, by playing and scoring at the World Cup finals is making history not only for AFD but his Belgian club KAS Eupen as well. He became the first player from KAS Eupen to participate in a World Cup and score too in the 70 years the club has been in existence. By scoring against Japan Wague also became the youngest African goal scorer in world finals history, at the age of only 19 years and 263 days. It was just over a year ago that the Senegalese played his first international at the age of 18, against Nigeria in a friendly. Since then the teenager has been selected by national coach Aliou Cisse for seven games, including four qualifiers for the World Cup.
Senegal face Colombia in their final group match on Thursday 28th June and need to avoid defeat to ensure qualification to the knockout stage. “It’s going to be a final,” said a visibly-motivated Wague. “Every team is in control of its own destiny. Colombia are a strong side but we’ll be doing all we can to win.”
When Wague's name was announced among the 23 players to represent the Teranga Lions last May, KAS Director Christoph Henkel said,"We are thrilled that our player Moussa Wague has been nominated for his home country's World Cup squad. With his talent, his attitude and his daily commitment, Moussa Wague has earned this nomination and he really deserves it. This nomination is a great success for KAS Eupen too and is additional proof that football talents can develop further with us and have the chance to recommend themselves for international assignments at the highest level. We have our fingers crossed for a successful World Cup for Moussa Wague, one that will leave him with many new impressions and experiences for the rest of his career."
Aspire Football Dreams (AFD) is a unique humanitarian project designed to identify and nurture young footballing talent from around the world. It provides a unique opportunity for thousands of 13-year-old boys in developing countries to receive an educational scholarship and the chance to develop their footballing potential. For some, it means the opportunity to play at an international level. For those fortunate enough to be selected onto the scheme, AFD provides a holistic development programme that includes private school education, coaching, the chance to play in international friendlies, medical and pastoral support, accommodation and board.