Rwanda vs Benin
Mali vs Algeria
Rwanda’s Amavubi Stars must not lose at home to Benin on Sunday if they hope to reach the third qualifying round for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Amavubi crumbled 4-0 in Algeria last weekend, and another defeat would all but end their hopes just eight days into the journey.
Last week’s defeat came after a two-week training camp held in Hammam Bourguiba and Sousse Provinces in Tunisia. It all started with three warm-up matches which ended in two losses and a draw.
The training camp in Tunisia exposed the weaknesses of the players as well as the relatively poor standard of the national football league, whose perceived competitive nature brought about false high hopes in the national team.
It all started last December when Rwanda finished second in the Cecafa Challenge Cup under Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojovic, who had been appointed two months before the regional tourney.
Then came the goalless draw against the Super Eagles of Nigeria in the 2013 African Nations’ Cup qualifier, first leg.
Amavubi supporters started to believe the team was finally getting to act together. Credit to Micho for securing the three international friendly matches, because without those games, most Rwandans would have continued to think they have a strong team.
Goals conceded against Algeria were not different from the goals conceded against Tunisia in the earlier friendly match.
Lack of concentration, communication, failure of players to stick to game plan, are some of the key factors that led to those two heavy defeats and Micho has cautioned his players against repeating the same on Sunday. The low level of experience of Amavubi players is also a big factor.
Whereas Algeria have a new squad composed of young players whose average age is at 24, some play in top European clubs, eight of them played for France U-21s and have easy access to top international football, Rwanda still relies on the likes of Olivier Karekezi and Bokota Labama.
After 2009 when both sides last met as well as 2010 World Cup finals, Algeria revamped their team contrary to Rwanda whose team is still composed of 80% of players who played in that game.
One step that should be done so as to help players gain international exposure and experience is to start a scheme of sending more young players to play top quality football in Europe.
There’s also need to change players’ attitude. Winning should be everything our players aim for when they go out to compete. Amavubi players don’t seem to have the winning mentality.
The players need to stop behaving like world beaters. They need to prove themselves on the field of play that they are indeed ready to play for their country with honour.
Unless this is done, Rwandan players will forever fail to compete in major leagues around the world. Amavubi players need to respect the national jersey. They should be reminded that no one is irreplaceable.
Rwandan players like winning but are not willing to work for it. We want our national teams to be the best but are not willing to go an extra mile to ensure that becomes a reality. More often than not players behave like spoilt brats.
Heading into Benin game tomorrow, Amavubi have a chance of winning so as to get back on road to Brazil.
Despite the defeats, Amavubi team gained a lot from the North African trip and more especially from the Algerian loss.
With no injury concerns and every player willing to correct what went wrong in Blida; Rwandans can smell victory on Sunday. Although a draw would not be a bad result, it would give ground to group favourites Algeria, who are odds on to win against Mali on the same day.
Apart from recent additions of Steven Godfroid and Elias Uzamukunda, the Serbian will retain the core of the team which played against Algeria.