DESPITE spending two weeks preparations, Amavubi Stars head coach Eric Nshimiyimana is not happy with the shape of his players, just days before Rwanda face Benin in the final Group H match scheduled for Sunday in Porto Novo.
Nshimiyimana’s team was held to a 1-all draw by league side SC Kiyovu in a training match played on Tuesday at Amahoro stadium. It follows last week’s 1-0 defeat to new league entrant Gicumbi FC, which is handled by Nshimiyimana’s assistant Baptiste Kayiranga.
As the team departs for Porto Novo today, Nshimiyimana is not happy with the players’ form but says it’s his responsibility as coach to motivate the players ahead of Sunday’s clash.
“I am not contended with the shape of the team but I attribute it to a variety of factors mainly the fact that players have been offseason because the season has not started, which means their fitness levels are still low,” Nshimiyimana, who won on his last visit to Porto Novo in 2011, told Times Sport.
He added, “The lack of competition has left so many players struggling to gain their top form.”
Some of the players will get their chance to show what they are really capable of in the absence of several key players such as goalkeeper Jean-Claude Ndoli (suspended), Jean-Claude Iranzi (injured), Ntamuhanga Titi, Michel Rusheshangonga and Emery Bayisenge (in France with the U20 team) as well as Olivier Karekezi, who retired from the national team recently.
“The new players are facing challenges to adjust to a new atmosphere which is not easy to adapt to but we are doing our best in motivating them,” explained the former Rwandan international midfielder.
Nonetheless, the former APR FC coach acknowledges the huge challenge that lies ahead for his bottom of Group H team.
“Benin is a strong team and I fear with our current shape, it will be difficult to beat them at their own turf. They are technically and physically very strong as you expect any team from (West Africa) region to be.
“But we are doing our homework by watching their matches to see how to cope with whatever threat they would pose,” added Nshimiyimana.
The delegation departs this morning with a 22-man squad which will be joined by Belgium-based defender Salomon Nirisarike in Porto Novo.
With no hopes of progressing to the play-offs of the 2014 World Cup, Amavubi must register a win to improve their Fifa rankings. The corresponding fixture in Kigali ended in a 1-all draw.
Amavubi won on their last visit to Benin two years ago under Nshimiyimana as care-taker coach with striker Meddie Kagere netting the solitary goal in the 1-0 victory.