Rwanda assistant coach Vincent Mashami has returned to national team duty following his recent suspension from domestic football that saw former Rayon Sports team manager Thierry Hitimana replace him as assistant coach.
Mashami was present at yesterday’s training session as the U-23 national side commenced preparations for the return leg of the CAF U-23 first round qualifier against Somalia on May 9 in Nairobi.
“Mashami is a great guy like the rest of my coaching staff. They are genuine people and that is one of the key things you look for in the people you surround yourself with, genuine hardworking people and I think we have that in Mashami,” explained Amavubi head coach Johnny McKinstry, who worked with him for the first time last month when the senior team played a friendly against Zambia in Lusaka.
The 35-year-old Mashami, who has amassed several coaching qualifications, including the UEFA A, B and C coaching licences from Germany as well as the CAF C licence, is an experienced coach at the top level and, most notably, he guided APR to the league title last season after replacing German tactician Andreas Spiers as interim coach.
McKinstry said, “He is also a very good coach. He knows the game and he also understands what I want out of the game as well and I think that comes from the experiences he has had travelling to Europe and spending time there.”
The Irishman also admitted that Mashami’s ability to speak and write English makes their partnership good, especially since he can translate to the players many a time to emphasise a point.
“But also in terms of the football concepts, he understands clearly what we are trying to do. It is great having him back on board,” said McKinstry, who summoned a 24-man squad for training that commences this afternoon at Amahoro stadium.
He said of Hitimana, “It was great having Thierry (Hitimana) for the last game and that was again another good coach but I think Mashami has so much experience with the national team and he executes his roles and responsibilities very well so it is very good to have him back on the team.”
Return leg in Nairobi
The return leg of this fixture with Somalia will be played at the newly refurbished Moi International Sports Centre in Kasarani, Nairobi.
“We shall be training at the Amahoro stadium because it is a natural grass pitch just like the one at Kasarani and this will help the players. It will be good for us because we shall not have so many fans at the stadium so the players can hear my instructions,” explained McKinstry.
The winner of this tie will meet Uganda in the next round and 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.