Rwanda host Algeria in qualifiers opener
World/Africa Cup Qualifiers
Rwanda v Algeria
Kick off: 3:30pm
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Rwanda’s Amavubi Stars go into the second round of the 2010 World/Africa Nations’ Cup qualifier against Algeria this afternoon at Amahoro stadium in a must-win mood.
The Amavubi Stars, regarded the minnows of Group C, which also has Egypt and Zambia, are optimistic about winning today’s opening fixture and launch their qualifying campaign in the best way possible.
Head coach Branko Tucak has hinted that his team is not intimidated by the visiting North African opponents.
The Croat has even gone as far as taunting his opponents by saying his side were favorites and pointing to the Fennecs historically poor road record as proof.
Though Tucak has a point, the real source of Rwandan strength lies in the strong sense of unity, discipline, organization and commitment within the team that is mainly composed of local-based players.
“We are optimistic and we believe that we can win the game on Saturday. A straight win is our number one target.
“Algeria have an advantage because a draw away from home is good for them but we don’t want to give them any room to get the result they probably want,” Tucak told Times Sport.
Amavubi Stars reached this stage primarily thanks to three wins in the previous round, two of which came at home. The most impressive one amongst the three was undoubtedly a 3-1 triumph over group favorites Morocco.
They later lost 2-0 in Casablanca to the Atlas Lions but their unexpected home win against Morocco is proof that Algeria should not take this match lightly.
Their coach Rabah Saadane is aware of Rwanda’s prowess, “We know how important the game is, we are not here for a holiday, and it’s a big match. A win is what we need but a draw is also not very bad.”
Algeria has a poor away record and they only managed only one point in their away games of the previous round of qualifiers.
The match will be handled by Africa’s best referee Bonaventure Codja Coffi from Benin, who will be assisted fellow countrymen Alexis Fassinou Arnaud and Crespin Aguidissou.
The last time the two teams met in Kigali during the 2006 World/African Cup qualifying campaign, the match ended 1-1 before Algeria won the corresponding fixture 1-0 in Algiers.
Togo’s Konyoh Komi is the fourth referee while Kenya’s Titus Kasuve is the match commissioner.
The other match in Group C match, Zambia plays Egypt tomorrow away in Cairo.
The top team in the group will qualify for the World Cup in South Africa next year as three best finishers make it for the African finals in Luanda, Angola in January.
Rwanda: Jean Claude Ndoli, Bonaventure Hategikimana, Saddou Boubakary, Hamad Ndikumana, Ismail Nshutinamagara, Patrick Mafisango, Mbuyu Twite, Jimmy Mulisa, Olivier Karekezi, Said Abedi and Jean Paul Lutula.
Algeria: Lounes Gaouaoui, Mohamed Ousserir, Slimane Raho, Mohamed Rabie Meftah, Reda Babouche, Nadir Belhadj, Yazid Mansouri, Lazhar Hadj Aissa, Rafik Saifi, Kamel Fehi Ghilas, and Abdelkader Ghezzal.