Rwanda national football team head coach Johnny McKinstry has revealed that he is looking into details and performances of Rwandan players who ply their trade abroad, especially in topflight leagues in Europe and other parts of the world.
This, he said, is in a bid to strengthen the Amavubi squad which is largely comprised of domestic players with only captain Haruna Niyonzima, who features for Yanga in the Tanzanian Premier League in Tanzania as the only one playing outside Rwanda.
The Irishman is quick to indicate that the Rwandan footballers playing abroad have to earn the call, and should be in such good form that they will add something unique to the team.
McKinstry told Times Sport that, “Well, if we bring anyone into the squad who is playing overseas then it will be because we think they will offer something more, or something different to what we have here in the country.”
“We won’t bring players just because they play outside the country. They have to be better than what we already have. If that is the case and they join up with the squad, then I am sure they will help to move us forward as a team,” stated the 29-year old tactician.
One of such players is France-based Kevin Monnet-Paquet, who plays for AS Saint-Étienne in the French Ligue 1. The striker was born in Bourgoin-Jallieu, south-eastern France to a French father and mother of Rwandan decent.
Paquet was brought up through the France youth football programme and has represented France at the U-18 and U-19 levels and has featured for the France U-21 side seven times but has never turned out for Les Blues.
The 26-year old forward, who can also play on the left wing could be the answer to Amavubi’s goal-shy record that has seen the national side fail to score an away goal in 17 months and with the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign starting in June, McKinstry would be delighted to have a forward of his calibre.
McKinstry is also hoping to follow up on the progress of former Arsenal midfielder Alfred Mugabo, who left the Gunners for the West Brom U-21s over a year ago.
“I haven’t had the chance to speak with him (Alfred Mugabo) yet. I’m hoping to do that early this week. He obviously had a bright start to his career, but that seems to have stalled a little bit recently, so I need to speak to him directly to see what direction he is going in and assess his situation,” explained McKinstry.
Amavubi will face Mozambique in their first game of the 2017 Afcon qualifying campaign on the weekend of June 5-7 in Maputo. Rwanda was placed in Group H alongside continental giants Ghana, Mauritius and Mozambique.