One brother at World Cup, another on Welsh rugby club

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Ben Kibango thought of playing with his brother Theo in their garden.

“He and I always hit it off,” he said. “Looking back now, it’s just good timing.”

The stakes are huge these days. Ben Kibango is a 22-year-old defender preparing for Wales’ first World Cup match in 64 years against the United States on Monday. Theo is a 20-year-old winger preparing to travel to South Africa for Cardiff’s match against the Sharks in the United Rugby Championship.

“I think we’ve both just pushed each other,” Ben said Saturday, “because obviously you have a competitive nature when both of you kids want to do better than each other.”

Ben played rugby and football until he was about 13, then chose to stick with football. His brother played football for a while and is now hoping for a call-up to the Wales national rugby team.

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“Rugby basically picked him up, I think, obviously, with his speed,” Ben said. “He has done well.”

Ben played in Swansea’s academy and began his professional career away from the limelight, with The New Saints in the Welsh League in 2018-19. He plays for Swansea in England’s second-tier League Championship and in September 2020 made his first of five international appearances for Wales in Finland as a second-half stoppage-time substitute.

Wales reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 1958, losing 1–0 to Brazil as Pele dribbled around Mel Charles and beat goalkeeper Jack Kelsey from short range in the 66th minute.. The Dragons were ranked 117th in 2011 and did not reach another major tournament until qualifying for the 2016 European Championships. They defeated Slovakia. And Russia After losing to England in the group stagethen defeated Northern Ireland. And beat Belgium 3-1. before losing to eventual champions Portugal in the semi-finals.

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Kabango remembers watching the victory over a star-studded Belgian team.

“I was just celebrating with all my mates in that fan zone in Cardiff,” he said. “We all just want that feeling again. It’s unreal to think about beating big teams like that, and we know we can do it.

His parents and girlfriend are traveling to Qatar on Sunday, where Wells is training at Al Sadd Club’s facility in downtown Doha. A slogan at the top of the interview background proclaims in Welsh: “Gorau Chwarare Cyd Chwarae”, which translates to “Team play is the best sport.” Players addressing the media face a sign that reads “Our Land. Our History. Our People.”

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All but four players are based in the UK, so adjusting to the weather is a bit of a hassle, with temperatures in the mid-80s Fahrenheit (high 20s Celsius).

“If we win the first game, it boosts confidence and hopefully it will take us further,” Kibango said.

Wales play Iran on Friday, then conclude the group stage against England on November 29.

“We can’t wait for this game. I know we’re looking at America first, obviously,” Kibango said. “Every time we play, there’s always a rivalry between us and England. “


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