Rwanda Vs Equatorial Guinea
(Grand Stade de Tanger, 21:30)
Rwanda 0-0 Nigeria
Rwanda national team (Amavubi) head coach Antoine Hey has praised his team’s fighting spirit after the goalless draw against the Super Falcons of Nigeria in the opening game of the 2018 Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) Group C played on Monday at Grand Stade de Tanger in Morocco.
Rwanda goalie Eric Ndayishimiye pulled brilliant saves to keep the bullish football power house at bay.
“I am happy with the way they fought up to the last minute; we are looking forward to continue with the same spirit in the next matches. Winning would have been better, but the result we got is good enough.
In the first half, we were somehow nervous,” the head coach said.
The Super Falcons were the better side, dominating possession in the entire game, but failed to do the most important thing – scoring.
The draw between Rwanda and Nigeria ensured that Libya maintained the top spot of the group, thanks to their 3-0 humbling of Equatorial Guinea in the earlier kick-off.
“We wanted to defend in first half and then try to look for goals in second half, but it did not work. It is hard to win against Nigeria, but a draw is not bad. It is remarkable for us,” Hey added.
With veteran Ali Rabiu leading Nigeria’s onslaught, youngster Sunday Faleye was unlucky to see his header from Osas Okoro’s assist bounce off the crossbar in the opening minutes with Ndayishimiye completely beaten.
In the 38th minute, Ali Rabiu wasted a golden opportunity to put Nigeria in the lead after his shot went wide.
Despite the good start, coach Hey is cautious. “The game against Equatorial Guinea will be tough, and we have to be ready to do much better. Today we needed a point and the next match we will need more,” the coach explained.
The second half resumed with Rwanda showing signs of a real threat following the introduction of forward Dominique Savio Nshuti and Justin Mico for Abeddy Biramahire and Barnabe Mubumbyi, respectively.
In the last 20 minutes, Amavubi missed a close chance as Eric Rutanga saw his curling effort from a set piece miss the top right corner of the goal post by inches.
In the 80th minute, Nigeria were unlucky not to score as Eze saw his well-taken header come off the left post.
Amavubi also had a free kick in the dying minutes of the game, which was taken by Rutanga but didn’t materialize as his cross was headed away by the Nigerian defense.
Meanwhile, Djihad Bizimana was named man of the match following his excellent individual performance in the game.
With a goalless draw, Rwanda secured a point and is left with two matches against Equatorial Guinea on Friday, January 19 and Libya on January 23 before completing the group stage campaign.