Gone are the days when Rwandan teams or teams from this part of the continent (in a general perspective) went to North Africa and come away with a real beating.
The last two results for the Amavubi Stars in the ongoing 2010 World/African Cup qualifying campaign is evidence of the change in fortune for Rwandan teams against North African opposition.
In the past, how many would believe that Rwandan could not only beat Morocco 3-1 but outplay them and lose by a ‘slim’ 2-0 margin in two meetings between the two teams in a space of seven days?
If there are not many, then Amavubi Stars players and fans must not be disheartened by last Saturday’s 2-0 reverse in Casablanca—because in the past, it could have been five or even more.
Early in the year APR went to Egypt to play against El Zamalek in the preliminary second round qualifier of the MTN Champions League and lost 2-0, the first game in Kigali had ended 1-2 in favour of the visitor hence the Rwandan side getting eliminated 4-1 on goals aggregate.
You can remind me of APR’s 4-0 routing of the same team a couple of year’s ago in the same competition but don’t forget that sometime around 2000, the military side was taught a lesson in football in form a 9-0 hammering against Esperance de Tunis.
Probably for fear of further humiliation, APR refused to play the return leg in Kigali thus CAF banning them from continental competitions for three years, lucky enough, the punishment was overturned.
Despite the fact that just only a few can take pride from Amavubi Stars performance in the return leg, many can take solace from the outcome.
To limit an angry Morocco to 2-0, a team that was on a revenge mission going into the match given what they had gone through just seven days earlier in Kigali, any Rwandan must take heart from it.
Let’s not hide the fact that Amavubi Stars’ general performance in Casablanca was wanting but over the two legs, it would be suicidal to deny that fact that Branko Tucak’s team fully deserved what it got.
Three point out of six off Morocco and three goals, is surely the best the Amavubi Stars would settle for under normal circumstances—in the past, it could have been one point at best or non at all.
Rwanda’s heaviest defeat against North African opposition came in form of a 5-0 at the hand of Tunisia and despite the fortunes changing as year goes by, the losing jinx in that part of the continent continues.
The break is what Amavubi players needed
After Morocco ended Rwanda’s four-match unbeaten run that included three back-to-back wins in as many 2010 World/Africa Cup qualifiers and Ethiopia thrashed Mauritania 6-1, the best thing the Rwandan players needed was a break.
To face a confident Ethiopia side immediately is something that Tucak’s and his players would not cherish, that’s why this break from not until September is the ideal befitting favour the fixture scheduled could offer.
Because most Amavubi players are not used to playing so many high profile matches in such quick succession, it is inevitable that we had started to see so many tired legs and lack of concentration out of the field.
The performance against Morocco in Casablanca did leave so much to be desired and the players know it that why many would think that this break was what they needed to recharge their batteries.