Just nine months after Rwanda was banned from the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations group stage qualifiers for fielding an ineligible player, the Rwanda Football Federation (FERWAFA) yet finds itself in a spot of bother with eight players ineligible to feature for the U-23 national team.
According to the FERWAFA president Vincent Degaule Nzamwita, the local football body contacted the Confederation of African Football (CAF) about the players’ legibility because the dates of birth on their service passports were not the same as those that were given by their respective clubs to the continental body.
That was ahead of last Saturday’s 2-0 home win for the national U-23 side against Somalia in the CAF qualifiers, preliminary round.
“We realised that the clubs that these players play for submitted different information when they were playing in the Orange Africa Champions League and the Confederations Cup, so we didn’t want a similar situation like the one related to (Dady) Birori happening, so we decided to omit them as we try to solve the situation with CAF,” Nzamwita said.
The players include: first choice goalkeeper Olivier Kwizera and right back Michel Rusheshangoga, who are also starters for the senior team; central defenders Faustin Usengimana and Herve Rugwiro; defensive midfielder Robert Ndatimana; attacking midfielders Andrew Buteera and Djihad Bizimana; as well as third choice goalkeeper Yves Kimenyi.
Rwanda head coach Johnny McKinstry bemoaned their absence and said, “Obviously this affected the team that we were able to select. The eight players that were ineligible to play were not fringe players.
They are players who have experience, players who have played not just at this level but the senior level so it impacted on that but we had a strong squad and I was confident in the ability of the players who stepped up to replace them to get the job done and ultimately they’ve done well.”
McKinstry is hopeful that the situation will be dealt with as soon as possible,
“We are hoping to know (their situation) in the first half of this week. I think it is something that will quickly be sorted out when we saw the issue, we realised it is such a big issue that we couldn’t go ahead with them.”
The return leg will be played in Kenya on May 9 and the winner will go on to face Uganda.
The side that will proceed thereafter will meet Egypt in the last round of qualification for the Caf U-23 tournament scheduled for December 5-19 in Senegal, an event that will attract eight teams.
The top three teams will qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.