Football matches between Rwanda and Uganda are never short of adrenaline rush. The hunt for bragging rights and, better still, victory will be on display when the U-23 sides face off in the second round first leg tie of the CAF U-23 Championship qualifier on May 23.
As the seeded team, the Uganda Kobs will play away first and will be up against a daring Rwandan side at Amahoro Stadium with the home side seeking to make an impression in front of the home crowd and, according to head coach Johnny McKinstry, a positive result at home is mandatory to maintain any chances of progressing to the third round where the winner of the tie will meet Egypt.
“We know it is going to be a difficult game because a local rivalry changes the psychology of the players with both sides up for the game. However, the players have to make sure that this does not get in the way of their roles and responsibilities and they have to execute the game plan,” McKinstry said.
The Irish tactician has been emphasising the team shape since taking over six weeks ago, and he admits that it is work in progress but he is impressed with the players’ evolution so far.
Against Somalia at the weekend, an early goal through Isaie Songa in the fourth minute ensured the perfect start for the Rwandan outfit. However, Songa’s failed attempts later in the game, including two one-on-one chances with Somalian goalkeeper Mustaf Khalib Hussein, left McKinstry distressed.
Somalia’s equaliser in the 75th minute was off an intercepted pass from left back Janvier Mutijima, who was trying to get the ball to centre back Faustin Usengimana before centre forward Abbas Mohammed pounced on the loose ball, ran into the penalty box and shot at goal and goalkeeper Olivier Kwizera had no chance whatsoever.
He said, “We need to correct a few things from the Somalia game for example we created so many chances but we didn’t finish them. If we don’t take them against Uganda, they can equally punish us. If we step up to our task in terms of finishing, we shall get a positive result.
Ultimately, we need to stop Uganda from scoring in Kigali. That is very important.”
Somalia held Rwanda to a shock 1-1 draw but the latter progressed courtesy of a 3-1 win on aggregate following the 2-0 win in the first leg in Kigali with goals from Yannick Mukunzi and Kevin Muhire.
Meanwhile, McKinstry will name a 24-man squad this afternoon with the option of having one more player included in the squad. Wingback Patrick Sibomana is expected to return to the squad if he passes a fitness test.
The winner of this tie meets Egypt in the final round of qualification and the victor from that tie will qualify for the CAF U-23 Championships scheduled for December 5-19 in Senegal. The top three sides will qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympics.