Rwanda lead a host of African football minnows seeking to exploit home advantage and upset more powerful opponents in 2010 World Cup and Nations’ Cup qualifiers this weekend.
Amavubi Stars confront Morocco’s Atlas Lions, Swaziland host Zambia, Botswana play Ivory Coast, Namibia meet Guinea and Malawi face African champions Egypt as the mini-league preliminary phase reaches the halfway mark.
There are 10 countries with 100 percent records entering the third round of fixtures and two of them, Rwanda and Morocco come face to face in Kigali with the outright leadership of Group 8 at stake.
Rwanda’s Amavubi Stars started their campaign in impressive fashion with two wins from the opening two fixtures against Mauritania and Ethiopia, scoring five goals and conceding one in the process.
Also, the Atlas Lions have beaten Ethiopia and Mauritania, scoring seven times and conceding once—therefore, the meeting of the two unbeaten sides is likely to provide goals.
Both sides will go into Saturday’s game (and not Sunday as we had earlier reported), needing to win and take full command of the group.
Blanko Tucak takes his troops into their biggest challenge of the campaign so far with a full fit squad save for defender Boubakary Saddou who strained a leg mucle in Addis Ababa and who is doubtful for Saturday’s match.
Swaziland shocked Germany 2006 World Cup qualifiers Togo 2-1 last Sunday for only their second success in 10 World Cup ties spanning 16 years.
King Mswati’s men will believe that if they can beat a team ranked 13th in Africa (Togo); they can claim another scalp against a country one place lower (Zambia).
Botswana shook off the disappointment of a home draw with Madagascar shock Mozambique 2-1 and will not fear off-form Group 7 favourites Ivory Coast who will be without Chelsea strikers Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou and Barcelona midfielder Yaya Toure.
Malawi began their Group 12 campaign with a 8-1 drubbing of lightweights Djibouti, but they probably drew more encouragement from losing to DR Congo by a solitary goal last Sunday.
But the main concern for Rwandans will be the home tie against Morocco at Nyamirambo stadium, a ground where the Amavubi have not lost in two international matches since an artificial turf was laid there early this year.
A win or draw for the home team, will give them full command of group 8, something good for more confidence building for the players going into the second leg phase.
After Saturday’s game, Rwanda next travels to Rabat to face Morocco next weekend before a home tie against Ethiopia the following weekend and end the campaign away to Mauritania
CAF–Adidas extend partnership
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) and sports equipment manufacturers, Adidas have signed an extension of their agreement until 2016.
Adidas, long standing CAF partner, provides sport equipments to the continental footballers’ body for its events and developing programs including courses for coaching, refereeing, sports medicine and football administration.
CAF is the architect of football in Africa in the future and their work has delivered tremendous results over the last years. Adidas also supports CAF financially.