The national senior soccer side, Amavubi Stars has, mathematically, failed to qualify for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (ACN), but with two games still to play to wind up the qualification campaign, not all is lost.
One of the games is scheduled today at Amahoro National Stadium where they host star-studded Elephants of Ivory Coast, who top Group H with maximum points and have already booked their ticket to next year’s finals in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
Rwanda’s maiden and only appearance at the continental showpiece was in 2004, when the national team cruised past established sides, thanks to an impressive home record and crucial away victories.
Since then, local fans’ expectations have been high, pilling pressure on the national team to match that feat.
Nonetheless, the performance has not been as encouraging, having missed out on all the four subsequent editions, largely due to an ageing squad, inconsistence and bad lack.
This weakened performance saw a marked reduction in the number of fans on the stands and dwindling enthusiasm among local supporters in general.
However, Rwandans proved to be ardent soccer fans, yet again, when the Junior Wasps booked a place in the recently-concluded FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico, where they played impressive and highly promising football.
The youngsters have since graduated into the U-20 side, with some of them earning call-ups to the senior team.
Indeed, the future of Rwanda’s football rests with the young generation, most of whom are a direct product of the youth football philosophy. As such, all indications show that the senior team will be much stronger come the next CAN/World Cup qualifiers.
The journey starts now. Amavubi needs to complete their 2012 CAN campaign on a high, starting with today’s game. Fans, too, should head to the stadium and rally behind the team.