RWANDA’S Under-20 team head coach Obradovic Tomislav has set his target of guiding the junior wasps to the semi-finals of the African Youth Championship which kicks off this Sunday at Amahoro stadium.
Speaking to Times Sport yesterday, Tomislav revealed that he has set himself and his staff a target of reaching the last four as the worst possible goal at the continental youth championship being played on Rwandan soil for the first time.
“My target is to help Rwanda reach the semi-finals and earn the country’s ticket to the Fifa Youth World Cup.
“I have a very solid team and with the full backing of our fans, I’m very confident about chances of achieving our target at home,” stated the Croat.
He added, “I respect all teams in our group but Rwanda is also a strong footballing nation capable of winning this tournament at home”.
However, the coach admitted his team’s opening match against Mali will be the most difficult because the first matches always come along with too much pressure.
“There will be a lot of pressure on us just because we are hosts, and beside no team wants to lose the first matches,” noted the Croat, adding that his boys are tactically and mentally prepared to overcome Mali.
Rwanda needs to win two of their three group A matches to be assured of a place not only in the semifinal of the African championship but also at next year’s World Youth Championship set to be held in Cairo, Egypt.
Rwanda face Mali, Ghana and Cameroon in their group while the 2007 beaten finalists, Nigeria, who have also won the event a record five times are in the other group along with Egypt, Ivory Coast and South Africa.
The four semi-finalists from the tournament in Rwanda will automatically qualify for the 2009 Under-20 World Cup to be played in Egypt.
If hosts Egypt reach the last four in Rwanda then the 5th placed team will qualify for the Under-20 World Cup.
Nigeria dethroned the Young Pharaohs in the final of the 2005 edition in Benin to win their fifth African Youth crown but were beaten 1-0 by Congo Brazzaville two years later.