Unlike a large section of pessimistic supporters casting doubt on Amavubi Stars ahead of last Sunday’s clash with Mali in Bamako, your columnist had opined that the Wasps, seen as underdogs, under no pressure and the promising coaches, had a good chance to pull off a surprise, and they nearly did.
Unfortunately, not many Rwandans back home were able to watch the game live. Probably, without the foul/s that resulted in the red card for influential midfielder Haruna Niyonzima, the game could even have been won.
The positive side of the draw is that it instilled more confidence and lessons to the new coaching staff and the players going into the last two qualifiers against group leaders Algeria and Benin.
It is this morale and experience from Mali plus the 12th player- the huge fan-base at Amahoro National Stadium tomorrow that should mount a hell of pressure on favourites Algeria and save the pride of our beloved nation.
Well, the North African giants are leading the table, have lost no game but will come to Kigali hoping to defend their image by beating the underdogs, who are bottom of the table with just two points from a possible 12.
Nevertheless, that shouldn’t in anyway demoralise our team. This reminds me of an inspirational statement by Eleanor Roosevelt, an eloquent medieval female figure and wife to former US president Franklin Roosevelt who said: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
It is up to Eric Nshimiyimana and his deputy to convince the appointing authorities that we no longer need the expensive foreign coaches and that local coaches are not inferior to their Mzungu counterparts.
Fortunately for Eric and his assistant Jean Baptist Kayiranga, in addition to the squad that withstood the challenge at Bamako, the midfield has got the boost of the Arsenal reserve youngster, Alfred Mugabo.
This also shows that Ferwafa echelons are paying attention to the progress of the Kigali-born youngster.
Yes, The Gunners 18-year old attacking midfielder, like any ambitious professional, is excited at the chance to play for his country in such important fixtures. The move is literally a symbol of strong bondage to his fatherland.
The young man admitted that it’s his first time to be home since the 1994 Genocide that claimed over a million compatriots including his close relative.
Besides getting known to career colleagues and football echelons, Mugabo’s coming kills two birds with one stone; an opportunity to understand the dynamics of Rwanda’s socio-economic progress and challenges.
More significantly from a professional point of view, his appearance at such a teenage stage in the senior national squad is a big push to his future ambitions with The Gunners.
Moreover, playing for Rwanda attracts crucial trust and confidence in him by the Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger; if he plays well in the national team, he could feature in the first team sooner than later.
Having said that, it’s obvious that neither Rwanda nor Mali are sure to feature in the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil. Even group leaders, Algeria may be eliminated at the next stage.
Nevertheless, the new coaching staff and the squad shouldn’t afford to feel inferior to the Algerians tomorrow, especially in-front of what could be a huge crowd at Amahoro stadium.