Rwanda senior men’s national volleyball team captain Christophe Mukunzi will miss the forthcoming Africa Cup of Nations finals tournament, which is slated for October 20-30 in Cairo, Egypt. Mukunzi is currently in Saudi Arabia for talks with a new club.
In his absence, head coach Paul Bitok named five youngsters in his squad for the competition that will also serve as qualifier for the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship that will be co-hosted by Italy and Bulgaria from September 10 to 30.
It will be the first time that the tournament will be held in two countries. The semi-finals and finals will take place in Turin, Italy. Twenty-four national teams are expected to compete.
The five youngsters in Bitok’s final team include; libero Simon Rwigema, 21 and center Ronald Muvara, 18 from second division side Rusumo High School, setter Jacob Irene Cyusa from Rwanda Energy Group, Kirehe center Robert Nshimiyimana, 22 and Kirere left-attacker, Fred Muvunyi, 22.
“This is good opportunity for me and my colleagues, who have been named on the team for the first time, it’s a sign of trust from the coach and I believe we can deliver. This shows the young players can handle international competitions,” said Muvala.
Bitok dropped senior players like Prince Kanamugire (APR), Rwanda Energy Group’s duo of Barack Rugira and Peace Twagirayesu as well as Jean Paul Sibomana of IPRC-South.
Olivier Ntagengwa, 25, was appointed as the acting captain and he will be assisted by Fred Musoni, 25.
In the build-up to the tournament, the team will play warm-up games against Egypt side Soumoha and Libya national team. The national team departed for Cairo on Saturday and will play the warm-up games on Monday and Tuesday.
Rwanda will compete against, Tunisia, Cameroon, Algeria, Morocco, Cape Verde, Ghana, Nigeria, Niger, DR Congo, Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Botswana and Mozambique while Wild card for Zambia, Libya, Chad and the host Egypt.