It was all smiles and celebrations across the country after Amavubi Stars a comfortable 3-0 win over Mauritania in the opening 2010 WC/CAN preliminary qualifying round on Saturday.
A last minute clearance by Fifa allowed Nyamirambo stadium to stage its biggest international football match in a very long time and Blanko Tucak’s men didn’t disappoint either.
Three-nil at home against Mauritania is a fair result by any standards but did that result and performance show us the real Amavubi? I don’t think so, but certainly there were glimpses of something good coming up.
Correct me if I’m wrong but it had been long since people (fans) left the stadium so happy with lots of optimism for the future as it was on Saturday—it actually reminded me of those hey days when Ghana, Uganda, DR Congo were some of Rwanda’s big casualties.
Some will says that was then and this is now, but the fans and the players are happy, at least after Saturday’s massive win, it could have been even more from where I was sat.
Had Olivier Karekezi played to his full potential or at least played with more conviction, he could have had a couple and not the one he scored, which he also netted from an offside position—on a bad day, the line official (assistant referee) could have put his flag up.
However, the most notable positive from Saturday’s game was the atmosphere on the terraces which was fabulous with fans getting behind the team; you could feel a sense of devotion going through the entire stadium.
Tucak played his preferred 3-4-3 formation and it worked for him against Mauritania and not many would bet on him changing it on Saturday in Addis Ababa when Ethiopia are the opponents in group eight second qualifier.
Ethiopia lost their opener 0-3 against Morocco in Casablanca, which is most likely to make them even harder to beat in front of their fans.
No coordination in midfield
However, the biggest worry would if Tucak continues with the same formation, which on Saturday exposed the defence on more than two occasions.
Had Mauritania strikers been a little more lethal, I don’t think Jean Claude Ndoli, in Amavubi’s goal, would celebrate that clean sheet but thanks he did.
Jean Baptist Mugiraneza and Patrick Mafisango collided with each other on more than one occasion in the first half.
On a number of occasions, the promising APR midfielder ran around the field like a headless chicken because he wasn’t very sure about his exact position on the field yet the more experienced Mafisango seemed to be playing a role of always being on hand to give cover.
Mbuyu Twite and Elias Ntaganda did well on the either flanks but the later wasted so many balls especially with his crossing which looked clumsy at times.
I wondered why he insisted on crossing with his weaker leg yet he always had time to switch to his stronger right.
The returning Hamad Ndikumana did little to show his difference with his less experienced partners in defence; Ismail Nshutinamagara and debutant Boubakary Sadou.
Sadou was my man of the match—the Cameroonian-born defender looked composed with or without the ball, he even got time overlap and put in one or two good crosses for the strikers.
As for Saidi Abedi and Labama Bokota, I got exactly what I expected—and odd goal from the Israel-based man who had not scored an international goal in years and a real poacher’s strike from the Rayon Sports striker.
Tucak’s substitutions did ok, especially Haruna Niyonzima who has lost his place under Tucak and Aloua Gaseruka who under the new coach plays either as a fullback or midfielder as opposed to the player’s usual center-back role.
Bobo Bolla, the less the said about his contribution to Saturday’s win or his contribution in national colors ever, the better.
But even with the morale boosting win, Tucak has a lot of work at hand to do this week before Saturday’s game with Ethiopia as they (Ethiopia) are totally a difference opponent compared to Mauritania.
Maybe by the time Morocco are visitors in Amahoro on June 14, Tucak’s will have a team that plays as a unit without leaving that big gap between the defence and the final third.