Amavubi captain Eric ‘Bakame’ Ndayishimiye has said the Rwandan football team are drawing inspiration from compatriot Joseph Areruya’s recent exploits ahead of tonight’s make-or-break tie against Libya in their final Group match at the African Nations Championships (CHAN) in Morocco.
On Sunday, Areruya became the first Rwandan to win a major cycling competition on foreign soil when he won this year’s Tropical Amissa Bongo race.
Areruya and his teammates arrived back home to a heroes’ welcome Tuesday evening.
“The boy has inspired the team, everyone is upbeat,” Bakame said in an interview today.
Rwanda need just a draw against Libya tonight to reach the quarterfinal stage of the biennial tournament, the second most important football competition on the continent.
Rwandans love football and always want to win and we want to win this match for them, the goalkeeper added.
“We want to fly our country’s flag high, this is like a final to us and we are giving it our all,” he added. “Everyone in the team is in good shape and we are all looking forward to the game.”
Rwanda are joint leaders of Group C, alongside Nigeria, each with 4 points and level on goal difference, after both avoided defeats in their first two matches.
The only time Rwanda has previously gone past the group stage of the competition was in 2016 when they lost to eventual winners DR Congo in extra-time. That edition was staged in Rwanda.
This month in Morocco, the Amavubi played out a goalless draw against the Super Eagles of Nigeria, before beating Equatorial Guinea 1-0.
Libya are in third place with three points and must beat Rwanda to reach the last eight.
The teams will be meeting for the second time in a space of one month after they drew 0-0 in the regional CECAFA Challenge Cup in Kenya in December last year, in which Libya participated as a guest team.
Meanwhile, Nigeria also need a draw against Equatorial Guinea – who have nothing but pride to play for – tonight to qualify for the quarterfinals.
Both matches get underway at 9p.m Rwandan time.