NAIROBI - Amavubi players are disappointed after failing to win this year’s Orange Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup.
Rwanda went into this year’s tournament in Nairobi as underdogs but after five wins on the spin before losing 2-0 against Uganda in the final Sunday afternoon at Nyayo national stadium, the players and their coach Eric Nshimiyimana could not hide their frustration at failing to make it six wins out of six.
Going into the tournament, very few if any gave the team any chance of going past the group stage but the youthful side defied all odds to go all the way to the final as the only team with a 100 percent record.
Asked whether reaching the final despite not winning the Cup meant that Rwanda had a successful tournament, the team captain Patrick Mafisango said, “Definitely we are disappointed not to win the final.”
“We would have liked to go on and be the champions of Cecafa, that’s why failing to win is a big disappointment for us,” noted the APR star.
The Congolese born midfielder cum defender was probably Rwanda’s best player of the tournament after his eye catching displays throughout the two-week championships.
Haruna Niyonzima, who was the key man in the team’s midfield said, “Reaching the final was a big achievement for the team given the fact that nobody back at home thought we could even reach the quarterfinal.”
Yussuf Ndayishimiye finished as Amavubi’s top scorer with four goals and the tournament’s second best top scorer behind Tanzania’s Mrisho Ngasa, who finished with five goals.
However, interim coach Nshimiyimana, despite his frustration of losing the final, only had good words for his players, who fell short of winning the county a second regional title having won it just once in 1999 at home soil.
He said after the match, “It’s not a shame to lose to a team like Uganda, which is full of experienced players, some of whom are playing in Europe.”
On the way to the final, Rwanda beat Somalia 1-0, Eritrea 2-0 and Zimbabwe 1-0 at the group stage before also dislodging Zimbabwe 4-1 in the quarter-finals and Tanzania 2-1 in the semifinal.
Since the inception of the Cecafa championships in 1973, Uganda has won it 11 times including 1979, 1989 as well as 2009. Rwanda’s win in 1999 denied the Cranes the opportunity to be only team to have won it every end of a decade. Rwanda beat Kenya 3-1 in that 1999 final, Kenya having eliminated Uganda 1-0 in the semifinal.
Since 1999, Rwanda has reached the final four times but without any success in 2003 lost to Uganda 2-0 in Sudan, 2005 lost to Ethiopia 1-0 in Kigali, 2007 beaten by Sudan 4-2 on penalties and the 2-0 loss to Uganda in 2009 in Nairobi.