Rwanda vs Ghana 3:30pm SS9
Mauritius vs Mozambique
Anyone, who has been following Rwandan football for the last 12 years or so, can at least remember July 6, 2003, the day that Rwanda stunned Ghana to qualify for the 2004 African Cup of Nations finals tournament in Tunisia.
Jimmy Gatete’s second half goal secured a 1-0 win over the Black Stars at Amahoro stadium to earn a historic AFCON ticket for Djukovic Ratomir’s team. Twelve years later, Rwanda host Ghana again in the same competition at the same venue.
The difference is the importance of the game, today’s game is not as important as in 2003 when the game was a must-win for either team in order to qualify. The other difference is in both squads—there is no single player from the 2003 lineup.
Saturday Sport takes a look at the players on both teams who can make a difference.
Eric ‘Bakame’ Ndayishimiye: Considering his experience and current form, the Rayon Sports skipper is expected to start between the sticks for Amavubi ahead of youngster Olivier Kwizera and veteran, Jean Claude Iranzi.
Ndayishimiye, 27, who made his senior Amavubi debut in 2008, helped APR FC to win multiple titles and had also previously led Atraco FC (now defunct) to CECAFA Kagame Cup in 2008 in Khartoum and league title in 2009.
Abouba Sibomana: The 26-year-old Gor Mahia left-back Sibomana is the undisputed starter on the left side of the back four and can also play at the left wing.
He won the 2012/2013 league title with Rayon Sports before joining Kenyan champions Gor Mahia in January this year. Since arriving in Nairobi, he is a regular and has helped the Kisumu-based club to a record 23-match unbeaten streak in FKF Premier League.
Michel Rusheshangoga: At just 21-years, the APR right-back has built his game around tough tackling and the capability to shine in big games. The former Isonga FC youngster joined APR three years ago and has earned quality experience with Amavubi since making his debut in 2012.
Emery Bayisenge and Salamon Nirisarike: The duo is likely to partner in heart of Amavubi defence and these two will have an unenviable task of dealing with whatever threat that Ghana forwards, Andre Ayew Dede, Jordan Ayew and skipper Asamoah Gyan will pose.
Former APR FC defender, Bayisenge, signed for Austrian second division league side Lask Linz FC in July while Belgium-based Nirisarike, 22, plays for second division side Sint-Truidense.
Yannick Mukunzi and Jean Baptiste Mugiraneza: APR youngster Mukunzi and Amavubi vice-captain Mugiraneza, who joined Tanzania’s Azam FC in July, have shown in previous matches that their partnership in central midfield can contain any opposition.
Amavubi’s chances of winning today’s game will depend on the performance of the duo. Upon signing for Azam FC, Mugiraneza, who was at APR since 2007, helped the club to win the 2015 CECAFA Kagame Cup for their first time in the club’s history.
Jacques Tuyisenge: Since returning from a two-month knee injury in May, Police FC skipper Tuyisenge has proved himself to be a valuable asset for the national team. The 24-year-old led Casa Mbungo’s Police FC to Peace Cup title in July and Agaciro Cup trophy last Sunday.
Jean Claude Iranzi: His energetic play and contribution to APR FC and Amavubi puts him at the centre of action today, especially him being one of the most experienced players on the team.
He has a good cross with his left foot to create goal scoring opportunities. He has featured for the Amavubi since 2008.
Haruna Niyonzima: The national team captain, Niyonzima, known for his ball possession ability, creativity and skills, is a key figure for Amavubi and will be the player that Ghana coach Avram Grant would be keen to naturalize.
The former Etincelles, Rayon Sports and APR playmaker, who joined Tanzania’s Young Africans in 2011, will be pivotal for Amavubi’s cause as they try to get a good result against the Black Stars.
Quentin Rushenguziminega: Set to make his debut appearance for the national team today, Rushenguziminega is one of the players expected to make a big difference for Amavubi and he will indeed want to leave a lasting impression.
The Swiss-based 23-year-old center forward, who plays for second tier side Lausanne Sport, landed in Kigali on Sunday and has since caught the eye of the coach during training with his close ball control and shooting technique—Johnny McKinstry will be hoping that Rushenguziminega can be the answer to the team’s goal scoring problems.
Key players on the Ghana side:
Andre Ayew Dede: The in-form attacking midfielder Ayew is the player to watch in the Black Stars side, especially with his fine form with Swansea City in the English Premier League, where he has already scored three goals in four matches, including goals against Chelsea and Manchester United.
The 25-year-old son of former Ghana captain Abedi Pele, who signed for Swansea from Marseille (France) this summer on a free transfer, has scored 11 goals from 62 appearances for Ghana.
Christian Atsu: The versatile forward Atsu can win the game for the Black Stars. He was named man of the tournament at this year’s AFCON in Equatorial Guinea. The 23-year-old Atsu, who received his first cap for senior team in 2012, has 9 international goals from 41 games.
He was signed by Chelsea FC in 2013 from FC Porto for a reported £3.5 million but is currently on loan at Premier League new boys, Bournemouth.
Jordan Ayew: The 23-year-old Ayew, the younger brother of Jordan Ayew, will also be a big threat for McKinstry’s men especially after coming off the bench to net a winner against the Republic of Congo on Tuesday in an international friendly match that ended 3-2 in favour of Grant’s team. He has 9 goals from 29 appearances for Ghana