CHAN playoffs: Ethiopia 'not ready' for Rwanda tie

Rwanda could qualify for the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) finals tournament without kicking a ball after Ethiopia wrote to the Confederation of African Football indicating that they are not ready for the playoff tie against Amavubi.
Striker Justin Mico is tackled by midfielder Ally Niyonzima as defender Yves Rugwiro closes in during Amavubi training at Amahoro Stadium on Tuesday. (Sam Ngendahimana)
Striker Justin Mico is tackled by midfielder Ally Niyonzima as defender Yves Rugwiro closes in during Amavubi training at Amahoro Stadium on Tuesday. (Sam Ngendahimana)

Nov. 5: First leg

Ethiopia         Vs         Rwanda

Nov.12: Second leg

Rwanda         Vs         Ethiopia

Rwanda could qualify for the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) finals tournament without kicking a ball after Ethiopia wrote to the Confederation of African Football indicating that they are not ready for the playoff tie against Amavubi.

According to reports in the Ethiopian press, the local FA has failed to raise a team for the CHAN 2018 playoff double header against Rwanda hence throwing their participation into limbo.

The Ethiopian Football Association has since requested CAF to postpone the two-legged tie.

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Antoine Hey seen in action during Amavubi training.

Amavubi started intensive preparations on Monday ahead of the playoff qualifier – Rwanda is supposed to travel to Addis Ababa on Friday, two days before the game but if Ethiopia fails to honor the game, it will see Rwanda get a bye to the finals tournament.

Ethiopia coach Ashenafi Bekele summoned a 25-man squad to camp Sunday but the players were a day later recalled to their respective clubs to continue with pre-season preps ahead of the start of Ethiopian Premier League this weekend.

Reports indicate that efforts to pause the start of the new season have been met with resistance from a section of the stakeholders.

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Amavubi left-back Celestin Ndayishimiye has returned to the squad ahead of the game against Ethiopia.

The first leg is slated for November 5 in Addis Ababa with the return match six days later in Kigali as both nations battle for a place to the 2018 Africa Nations Championship, scheduled for January 12 to February 4 next year.

The aggregate winner bags the 16th and the last ticket to the continental showpiece set aside for home-based players.

The slot was initially reserved for Kenya as hosts but it was whisked away with the hosting rights which went to Morocco as the East Africans failed the readiness test.

Egypt declined the offer to take Kenya’s slot leaving CAF with no choice but to hand it back to the East Africa region.

The winner over the two legs will join Uganda and Sudan as representatives of the CECAFA at the next year’s tournament.

Rwanda missed out on automatic qualification as they lost to Uganda Cranes 2-3 on goal aggregate despite winning the home return leg 2-0. Ethiopia was bundled out by Sudan 2-1 on aggregate, leaving Uganda and Kenya to advance as representatives for Central East Zone.

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Head coach Antoine Hey gives instructions to his players during the training session on Tuesday.

If Rwanda seals a win over Ethiopia in the two-legged qualifier, it will be the country’s third appearance at the CHAN tournament since its inception in 2009.

Rwanda took part in the 2011 edition held in Sudan, failing to go from the group before hosting the 2016 edition where they reached the quarter-finals, losing to eventual winners DR Congo, 2-1 in extra-time.

However, DR Congo will not be able to defend their title as they lost the qualification bid to neighbours Congo Brazzaville. The draw for the final tournament is scheduled for November 17.

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 Police FC striker Biramahire seen here in action during Amavubi training. He is among the new faces that have joined the team.
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 Djihadi Bizimana and Muhadjili Hakizimana vie for the ball during training at Amahoro National Stadium.
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 Midfielder Ally Niyonzima tries a free kick in the training.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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