When Rwanda met Morocco last weekend in Kigali, it was a case of who takes control of the group because both teams were level on points (six) but when the curtain falls off today’s game in Casablanca, it’ll be a case of history between the two teams.
Rwanda may be an unlikely group eight leader after a full haul of points but they can further still be the most unlikely first country to progress to the third phase of the 2010 World/African Cup qualifying campaign.
Three back-to-back wins in the battle to make the grade for the 2010 world cup in South Africa and Nation’s Cup in Angola including that magnificent 3-1 over Morocco, confidence is in abundance in and around the Amavubi Stars camp.
And there is no better time to face Morocco for the second time in a space of seven days than now when the players (Rwandan) on the back of such great results appear to feel an inch or two higher as soon as they step on the field.
Winning breeds confidence and vice versa, the reason Branko Tucak and his men have every reason in the world to feel as confident as they have never felt before going into today’s game with the Atlas Lions.
No Rwandan team, club or national team has ever won in that part of the continent but while that jinx is likely to continue, you can never write off a team that is enjoying the longest winning streak in their not so illustrious history.
Never before in recent history had Rwanda won three back-to-back or gone unbeaten in four consecutive international competitive matches, so that is a record set already which should give the players more belief that, in the right conditions, they can actually stretch it to five and more.
Tucak’s record since taking over as Amavubi Stars head coach in April is one that any coach would envy. Three wins, one draw and one loss, doesn’t make a bad reading.
In the first leg, the Moroccans didn’t look a side that has appeared at almost every Nations’ Cup finals but the situation is certainly going to be different inside Mohammed V stadium, Casablanca.
Sadly, the absence of three important players in Mbuyu Twite (Eric Gasana), Boubakary Saddou and Ismail Nshutinamagara, will undoubtedly make Tucak assignment a lot tougher than it would with them on the field.
Getting the right players to replace the trio in the first team appears to be the more difficult task for the Croat than what the Moroccans will have in stock for him and his men when the referee blows his first whistle.
When you look at what Tucak has as replacements; Albert Nyumbayire or Hegman Ngoma for Mbuyu in the midfield and Arafat Serugendo or Aimable Rucogoza to partner Hamad Ndikumana in central defence, they (replacements) have no enough experience at this level.
And to make matter even worse, none of them has been on the field in the last three games, so moments of panic or inexperience in those areas could be Rwanda’s major undoing.
The Atlas Lions are unbeaten in 26 home qualifiers since a 2-0 defeat by Cameroon in the final elimination series for the 1982 World Cup.
But history is there is to be written and re-written much as records are made or set and broken at some stage in time, which is why whatever happens in today’s game, Rwanda will either go down in history as having set a record or a jinx continuing, good luck to the Wasps.