Rwanda vs Somalia
Amavubi Stars head coach Johnny McKinstry, who also doubles as coach for the U-23 team is happy with the diversity in the youth squad currently training twice a day ahead of the CAF U-23 qualifier against Somalia set for April 25 at the Amahoro stadium.
With players from 10 different clubs, eight in the domestic league and two in Europe, the Irishman believes that the variety at his disposal will increase his options in preparation for a busy year.
“This squad is more balanced unlike the one we named for the Zambia friendly last month.
Then, I noticed that we had too many of similar type of players so we had to shake things up a bit,” explained McKinstry.
He admitted that he has not watched too many league games since being appointed head coach of the national side because he arrived in time for the international football week and the league was halted during the Genocide memorial week.
Over the weekend, McKinstry watched SC Kiyovu beat Gicumbi 1-0 where his eye caught Gicumbi forward Jean Marie Muvandimwe, who will be looking to impress again this week for a chance to be picked for the Somalia game at the weekend.
Following staff recommendations, McKinstry summoned Marines’ forward Bienvenue Mugenzi who has netted seven times this season for the 10th placed Rubavu side.
It is McKinstry’s ideology of performance over reputation that has seen the introduction of players from lowly clubs.
Meanwhile, McKinstry is impressed with Rayon Sports central defender Faustin Usengimana, who returns to the national team set up for the first time since September 2013 when Amavubi lost 2-0 to Benin.
“Ultimately, Faustin has the physical size and we need one or two bigger players on the squad for set pieces. He looks comfortable on the ball and reads the game pretty well,” noted the former Sierra Leone coach.
He added, “I watched him against Zamalek and he dropped off when he needed to, comfortable passing, good in the air and has previously been involved with the national teams.”
After this weekend, the return leg will be played on May 9 in Kenya with the winner facing Uganda in the next round of qualification.
The victor will face Egypt and the winner between the two sides will qualify for the CAF U-23 Championship in Senegal from December 5-19. The top three sides will qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.