April 1: First leg
Kenya Vs Rwanda
April 2: Second leg
Rwanda Vs Kenya
Rwanda U-20 head coach Vincent Mashami is confident that his side can win the two-legged 2019 U-20 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Kenya.
The first leg will be staged on April 1 at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos; just outside Nairobi while the return leg will be played on April 21 at Kigali Stadium in Nyamirambo.
On quick notice to participate in the qualifiers, Mashami announced the 30-man provisional squad for the 2019 CAF Africa Cup of Nations qualifier. The team has already started training at Amahoro National Stadium.
The Rwanda tactician said in a media briefing held on Tuesday afternoon at Ferwafa headquarters in Remera that they are very optimistic to put together a “very strong team.”
“We know now that the players we have invited are young but can play international football and we will have a very tough training schedule especially in the first couple of days and they will be ready for the first game,” Mashami said.
The Amavubi senior team assistant coach added that, “We have good players and now we need to get them mentally ready for this very difficult qualifier.”
“These are players with massive potential to play at top level, if they are trained right, motivated and encouraged and told what to do,” he explained.
The team started training on Wednesday with double training sessions and Mashami says he knows how Kenya plays, and this will inform the training sessions and tactics he will employ for the two fixtures.
“Our target is to get a good result in the first leg. We’re taking this fixture very seriously and we will be looking to eliminate them in second leg at home,” former APR and Bugesera FC coach declared.
He added that, “We will go to attack and look for goals and defend. We want to play an offensive game to ensure we progress to the second round.”
The winner between Rwanda and Kenya will face defending champions Zambia in the second round slated for May.
The final qualifying round will be staged in July with the winner earning slots to next year’s Africa U-20 Cup of Nations finals tournament in Niger.
Zambia won the 2017 finals edition staged in Lusaka following a 2-0 victory over Senegal in the final game.
Mashami will be assisted by Marines coach Yves Rwasamanzi while Alexis Mugabo is goalkeepers’ coach, Assouman Nuru (Physio/Doctor), Felix Nizeyimana (Team Manager) and Eric Tuyisenge (Kit Manager).
In other first round fixtures, Mauritania will take on Morocco, Guinea Bissau will face Sierra Leone, Algeria will face Tunisia, Liberia will face Benin, Gabon will take on Togo, while Ethiopia has been drawn against Burundi.
Meanwhile, Zambia, Guinea, Nigeria, Gambia, Burkina Faso, Libya, Cote d’Ivoire and Sudan got automatic pass to the next round.
Rwanda last hosted the 2009 edition of the CAF U-20 Nations Cup and could only manage to finish third in their group which was composed of Ghana, Cameroon and Mali respectively.
The U-20 Africa Cup of Nations is held every two years with the top 4 teams qualifying for the FIFA U-20 World Cup.