Creativity in midfield and ability to finish in the final third will be crucial if Rwanda is to upset Uganda in the CAF U-23 Championship qualifier on Saturday at the Amahoro stadium.
Rather than the ‘easy’ test presented by a lowly Somalia side a fortnight ago in the first round, against Uganda, the Rwanda U-23 side faces a tough challenge that will not only be a regional derby with bragging rights at stake but also an opportunity to maintain hopes of qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
It is against this background that the theme to the home side’s training sessions has been dominated by a build-up on attacking options that has seen strikers Isaie Songa and Danny Usengimana, midfielders Andrew Buteera and Kevin Muhire as well as Bienvenue Mugenzi improve their alertness in front of goal.
Rwanda head coach Johnny McKinstry told Times Sport that, “Following our not-so-good performance against Somalia in the return leg [a 1-1 draw in Djibouti], we have been working on improving our goal scoring chances. We have to make it count in the final third. The players look sharp in training but this has to translate into the game. That is important.”
Songa, the league top scorer with 14 goals this season with AS Kigali, will be hoping to replicate this form with the national team. He netted Rwanda’s lone goal in Djibouti in the return leg 10 days ago but he also missed two one-on-one chances with goalkeeper Mustaf Khalib Hussein.
Rwanda booked a date with Uganda having won the first round 3-1 on aggregate following a 2-0 in the first round courtesy of goals from Yannick Mukunzi and Muhire.
Meanwhile, APR midfielder Maxime Sekamana, has been ruled out of the first leg tie in Kigali following an Achilles heel injury he attained on Sunday against Sunrise FC in the last game of the season in Rwamagana.
According to team doctor Moussa Hakizimana, Sekamana is undergoing light training without contact and is jogging as he continues to improve. McKinstry is optimistic Sekamana will play a part in the return leg in Kampala on May 31.
Mukunzi who suffered a knock in the first training session on Monday returned to training yesterday afternoon while Jean Marie Muvandimwe who suffered a strain to his right ankle has continued to improve tremendously and is expected to train today.
Uganda, handled by former Amavubi Stars coach Milutin ‘Micho’Sredojevic, arrive in Kigali tomorrow morning.
The winner of this tie will meet Egypt in the last round of qualification for the continental showpiece set for November 28-December 12 in Dakar, Senegal. The top three sides will qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.