Burundi vs Rwanda 3:30pm
Zambia vs Uganda
South Africa vs Brazil 7pm
Sudan vs Kenya 8pm
RWANDA national team head coach Eric Nshimiyimana, whose contract with Amavubi ends this month, will be eager to win today’s friendly tie against Burundi. The outcome is bound to have an effect on whether he deserves a contract renewal, along with his assistant Jean Baptiste Kayiranga.
Amavubi Stars will be seeking to make a winning start to the year when they take on southern neighbours Burundi in an international friendly match this afternoon at Prince Louis Rwagasore in Bujumbura.
Both sides are using this match as part of their preparations for the 2015 Africa Nations Cup qualifiers set to begin in April.
Nonetheless, a win is important for Rwanda, who had a poor 2013 season after failing to qualify for the 2014 Chan finals and got bundled out of the Cecafa Challenge Cup in the quarter finals against eventual winners and tournament hosts, Kenya in December.
With only two professional players Elias Uzamukunda [AS Cannes] and Salomon Nirisarike available at Nshimiyimana’s disposal, Amavubi face a tricky test against Burundi who summoned ten professionals for the match.
Nshimiyimana remains confident his troops will secure a win as Amavubi seek to improve their Fifa rankings where Rwanda sits at 134, ten places behind their opponents.
“The players are ready for the test and we believe we will win. Burundi offers a tough challenge and on the other side it’s a good test for our boys ahead of the 2015 Africa Nations Cup qualifiers,” said Nshimiyimana.
He noted the players are in upbeat mood despite last week’s 4-0 defeat at the hands of league side APR FC in a training match where Nshimiyimana gave a chance to all his players.
Amavubi will be without influential captain Haruna Niyonzima, who was denied permission by his Tanzanian club Yanga because of their Caf Champions League second leg tie against holder Al Ahly of Egypt this weekend.
Likewise, Burundi’s German coach Rainer Wilfried will also miss key players whose clubs will be featuring in the Africa Champions League.
Flambeau de l’est trio of Arthur Arakaza, Pascal Hakizimana and Hussein Shabani, Young Africans striker Didier Kavumbangu and Simba defender Gilbert Kaze, who is nursing a knee injury are out of today’s match.
Flambeau de l’est play away to Cameroonian champions Coton Sport, coached by former Rayon Sports coach Didier Gomes da Rosa. The Burundian champions won the first leg 1-0 at the weekend in Bujumbura.
The rest of the Burundian professional players were expected in Bujumbura on Monday night.
Proceeds from today’s match will go towards helping victims of the severe flooding which rocked the Northern districts of the capital Bujumbura leaving more than 130 people dead last month.
Burundi are considered favourite considering their recent participation in the Africa Nations Championship [Chan] where they failed to go past the group stage.
In previous nine matches that have pitted the two sides, Amavubi has won four matches, while the Swallows have won five matches. Their biggest win was in 1976 when the Swallows beat Amavubi 6-2, while Rwanda’s biggest win was a 4-2 in 2003 Cecafa Challenge Cup.
Recently in the 2012 Afcon qualifiers, Amavubi, under the reign of Ghanian Sellas Tetteh beat the Swallows 3-1 in Kigali with the Swallows recording the same result in the return leg in Bujumbura.
After a botched 2013 Afcon and 2014 Chan campaigns, Amavubi must prove Rwandans wrong by registering a win against Burundi to affirm their readiness for the upcoming Morocco 2015 campaign.