It took just a phone call from Brig. Gen. John Bosco Kazura to put two men in high spirits for next two or so years unless something goes wrong between now and 2010.
Jean Marie Ntagwabira and Antoine Rutsindura were recently appointed by the local football governing body, Ferwafa as assists to Amavubi Stars new head coach Josip Kuze.
And in two separate exclusive interviews with Times Sport, both men expressed their delight to work for the national cause.
The two men are no strangers to the national team set-up having worked in similar capacities in the past though at different levels.
Ntagwabira is well remembered for his time as Djuckovic Ratomir’s right-hand and trusted man during an era when Rwanda’s football was at its brightest point in history.
While his colleague, Rutsindura traces his roots with the national team set-up from his times as the U-23 assist coach to Alloys Kanamugire way back in 1999, nonetheless, he has bee actively involved in club football since then.
Both men admitted to have been taken by surprise when they received phone calls and on the other end was the voice of Gen. Kazura with the good news, “you’ve been appointed the national team assistant coach”.
First enters Rutsindura
Jobless at the time of his appointment, it goes without saying that Rutsindura must have been the happiest of the two, first by getting a job and secondly, to work for a national cause.
“I was happy when the call came in (from Kazura) confirming that I had been appointed the national team assistant coach,” was his immediate response.
He went ahead, “It’s an honor to work with the national team and I am ready for the challenge that lies ahead.”
Asked about his new immediate boss, Kuze, the 50-year-old said, “Oh, yes, he’s a good man and by just talking to him, you find, he’s an experienced coach even with the way he talks to you.”
“He’s a man, whose coming could be a blessing for us all (Rwandans) because his plan for the team rotates around young footballers. This is something we need if our football is going to develop.
“I want to play my part in taking the team forward and best way to do that, would be by listening to him (Kuze) and give him advise every time it necessitates. There would be conflict of interest whatsoever,” he stressed.
Having coached at Flash, Zebra, AS-Kigali and most recently Rayon Sports, Rutsindura is one of the most respected local coaches whose knowledge of football has seen him being appointed a Fifa instructor.
Then comes Ntagwabira
He needs no introduction, the name Capt. Jean Marie Ntagwabira achievements as coach speak volumes. As Ratomir’s assist, Rwanda qualified for her maiden appearance at Africa Cup of Nations’ finals in 2004, not to mention his four national league titles, one Cecafa club championship and three Amahoro Cup titles he won as head coach of APR Fc.
“Yes, I am happy to return to the national team set-up, it’s a big honor for me,” he told this reporter before adding that, “But my accepting to take up this role (as assistant) coach had one condition attached to it.
“When Afande Kazura called me, telling me that I had been appointed as Amavubi assistant coach, the first thing I told him, was, thanks but you must allow me keep my job as Atraco coach,” Ntagwabira disclosed.
About the new head coach, the ex-Rwandan international said, “We’ve talked as coaches and I found them (Kuze and Tomislav Obradovic, U-20 coach) good men to work with”.
“One thing I like most about them is their willing to listen to us and accept our advice (assistant coaches).
“We all have one objective, that is to qualify for CAN 2012 and with the players we have, I am convinced, Rwanda could qualify after breaking the jinx in 2004,” the 37-year-old acknowledged.
Like Rutsindura, Ntagwabira is convinced Ferwafa and the Sports Ministry made the right choice in appointing Kuze to replace Michael Nees as the national team head coach and that with his experience, Rwanda could return to its old good days sooner rather than later.