Nov. 5: First leg
Ethiopia Vs Rwanda
Nov.12: Second leg
Rwanda Vs Ethiopia
Rwanda national team head coach Antoine Hey is confident Amavubi will qualify for the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) finals, which will take place from January 12 to February 4 in Morocco.
Rwanda take on Ethiopia in the first leg of this hastily arranged qualification play-off tie on Sunday in Addis Ababa before hosting the second leg on November 12 in Kigali.
The second chance to qualify for both sides came after Egypt turned down the opportunity to compete in the tournament in a bid to fill the place left by Kenya, who were initially supposed to host the finals tournament and was replaced by Morocco.
The winner over the two legs will join Uganda and Sudan as representatives of the CECAFA region.
Rwanda missed out on automatic qualification as they lost to Uganda Cranes 2-3 on aggregate in August despite winning the home return leg 2-0, while Ethiopia had also been knocked out by Sudan 2-1 on aggregate.
If Rwanda qualify, it will be their third participation at the CHAN finals tournament since its inception in 2009.
Amavubi took part in the 2011 edition held in Sudan, but didn’t advance from the group before hosting the 2016 edition where they reached the quarter-final, 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.
Ahead of Rwanda’s departure to Addis Ababa on Friday, Hey revealed that he has no injury worries to any of his key players and that the team is focused on getting a positive result in the first leg.
“We are very thankful for the second chance that we have got after we lost the final qualifying round to Uganda. Everybody in camp knows that second chances in life don’t come very often. We are now trying everything possible to get over this last hurdle against Ethiopia,” Hey told Saturday Sport.
The German tactician revealed that they have done research on Ethiopia and are not leaving anything to chance in the bid to book the last qualification ticket to the finals of Africa’s second biggest international football competition that is reserved for home-based players.
“I am absolutely sure if we stick to our game plan, we have a very good chance to qualify but football is unpredictable, so everything is open and this is what makes this sport so interesting,” he added.
The former Kenya coach noted that, “It’s in our own hands; we can’t blame anyone else if we fail this time to qualify. I can only tell you, we are ready, players are ready and I hope in one week’s time, we will have a good reason to celebrate and see a lot of smiling faces.”
He named the final 18-player squad on Thursday evening, handing debut call-ups for Rayon Sports duo of forward Djabel Manishimwe and right-back Saddam Nyandwi.
Hey dropped APR FC’s Yves Kimenyi, Maxime Sekamana, Imran Nshimiyimana and Herve Rugwiro as well as Miraf Nizeyimana (Police FC) and Djuma Nizeyimana (SC Kiyovu).
Final 18-man squad:
Goalkeepers: Eric Ndayishimiye (Rayon Sports) and Marcel Nzarora (Police FC)
Defenders: Faustin Usengimana (Rayon Sports), Eric Rutanga (Rayon Sports), Saddam Nywandwi (Rayon Sprts), Soter Kayumba (AS Kigali), Celestin Ndayishimiye (Police FC), Eric Iradukunda (AS Kigali) and Thierry Manzi (Rayon Sports).
Midfielders: Djihad Bizimana (APR FC), Oliver Niyonzima (Rayon Sports), Muhadjir Hakizimana (APR FC), Ally Niyonzima (AS Kigali) and Yannick Mukunzi (Rayon Sports).
Forwards: Innocent Nshuti (APR FC), Justin Mico (Police FC), Abeddy Biramahire (Police FC) and Djabel Manishimwe (Rayon Sports).