Rwanda’s Amavubi get their campaign at the 2018 Total African Nations Championships (CHAN) finals in Morocco underway today by taking on one of Africa’s giants, Super Eagles of Nigeria, in a match that will truly test the wasps’ pedigree and readiness to go head-to-head with continent’s best in the sport.
While Amavubi’s recent matches have not particularly been impressive, this is a continental championship and the team need to approach it with a forward-looking attitude and strong sense of belief.
During the last CHAN finals, staged in Rwanda, the Amavubi made the country proud, beating the likes of Côte d’Ivoire and Gabon en route to the quarter-finals, where they narrowly lost – in extra-time –to eventual winners DR Congo.
Amavubi’s decent showing at CHAN 2016 finals was the icing on the cake for a country that was hosting its biggest football event ever, which it did fairly well thanks to good organisation and fans’ presence in the stands throughout the competition.
The Amavubi have a penchant for giant killing, having done so on several occasions previously, including the famous victory over the Black Stars of Ghana on the road to the 2004 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals.
And so when the wasps emerge from the tunnel tonight to take on one of the powerhouses of African football, Rwandans back home and across the world will be expecting nothing less than a proud performance from the boys.
Amavubi’s Group C opponents are generally good sides. Besides Nigeria, Rwanda will also face former CHAN winners Libya and Equatorial Guinea in the group stage. But each of these teams is beatable and Amavubi have potential to come out on top and progress to the next stage.
The boys can draw inspiration from previous feats by the team – from as far back in 2004 and as recent as 2016. The wasps have what it takes to fly high and sting their way to success.
Tonight, the Amavubi should step onto the pitch in the Moroccan northwestern city of Tangier with a positive, winning mentality and not be intimated by what history says about the Nigerians.
It’s yet another opportunity for the current generation of the Amavubi players to make history and make their country proud.