PRIME Minister Bernard Makuza believes Rwanda has got what it takes to stage Africa’s premier football event-the Africa Nations Cup (CAN). Makuza made the remarks yesterday while playing in a friendly match between vision 2020 FC and Etincelles at the newly refurbished Rubavu Stadium, one of the venues for the 2011 U-17 Africa Nations Cup which kicks off this Saturday at Amahoro Stadium.
“After successfully hosting last year’s CAN U-20 and now on the verge of hosting the U-17, I believe it is a good indication to the continental football body (Caf) that we have the capacity to host the Africa Cup of Nations,” he said.
He also revealed that the Ministry of Sports and Culture has requested Caf to inspect Rwanda’s facilities before going on with a formal bid to host the tournament.
In a bid to keep young talents coming through the ranks, the Premier called for strong development programmes.
“We have the facilities and talent to rank high but we don’t because we don’t groom young talents and invest well in academies,” he noted. He advised the football authorities not to only concentrate on short term results but to also plan for the long term. As regards the upcoming U-17 tournament, Makuza remains optimistic about the junior wasps’ chances of reaching the semi-finals and probably going on to win the competition.
“All the facilities are in place and the preparations by the team have been tremendous so we are very hopeful that things will fall in place,” he continued adding that home advantage would play in Rwanda’s favour.
The junior wasps are drawn in Group A alongside Burkina Faso, Senegal and Egypt and open their campaign this Saturday against Burkina Faso.
On January 11, they play Egypt before playing their last group game next Friday against Senegal.
The other group (B) pits defending champions Gambia against Ivory Coast, Congo Brazzaville and Mali.
With the top two in each group guaranteed a spot at next year’s FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico, Junior Wasps head coach Richard Tardy is desperate to rewrite history by becoming the first coach to guide a Rwandan side to the World Cup.
Caf U-17 Championship
Group A: - Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Senegal
Group B: - Gambia, Mali, Congo Brazzaville, Ivory Coast