Rwanda marks AYC debut with win
Cameroon holds Ghana to draw
Africa Youth Championship
Rwanda 2-1 Mali
Ghana 1-1 Cameroon
Host nation Rwanda made a dream debut at the finals of the African Youth Championship with a hard fought 2-1 win over Mali in the opening match of the 16th continental youth championship which got underway yesterday in Kigali.
In the second match, group favourites Ghana and Cameroon played out to an entertaining 1-1 draw in a match the Ghanaians dominated and deserved more than just a point.
Jean Baptist Mugiraneza and Elias Uzamukunda were on target for the Junior Wasps on the 7th and 53rd minutes respectively.
Mugiraneza netted the tournament’s first goal with a striker’s instinct when he connected well with a Michel Hitimana cross from the left wing.
However, Rwanda’s joy was short lived as France based midfielder Sow Samba snatched an equalizer on the half hour mark.
With the score level at 1-1 at half time, fans in the terraces feared for the worst as Mali threatened to spoil the party, but it was the home team that went ahead through Uzamukunda, eight minutes after the restart.
The APR striker rose highest to head home an aerial cross ball from Aboubakar Nshimiyimana from the left wing.
Obradovic Tomislav’s team started brightly and could have gone more than one goal ahead before Mali equalized but wasted several chances to kick off the games thanks to a wasteful strikers .
Like Uzamukunda, Mali striker Yacouba Diarra caused all sorts trouble for Rwanda’s central defensive partnership of Arafat Serugendo and Aimable Rucogoza, no wonder it was the duo that was at fault for the equalizer.
The powerful striker was also denied twice by the woodwork in each half, first the post and then the crossbar.
APR striker Ernest Kwizera was denied by goalkeeper Ibrahim Mounkoro midway through the second half but was later substituted by Jean Claude Iranzi.
After the game, coach Tomislav said that Rwanda deserved to win the game given the pressure they were under of playing at home in front of a full house.
“It was not an easy game but we held our nerves and won against a very good Mali team,” admitted a delighted Croat.
His counterpart Djibril Drame blamed his players for failing to get something from the game, which he said was there for the taking.
He said, “We were unlucky and missed several opportunities which would have turned the game in our favor but it wasn’t our day.”
Ghana’s skipper Ayew Dede, son of Ghanaian legend Abedi Pele, inspired the Black Satellites to come from behind and snatch a 37th minute equalizer after Cameroon had taken a first minute goal courtesy of Zoua Daogari Jacques.
In the thriller fixture, Dede headed Abad Nang Sylvain cross to set the Black satellites on fire.
The Sellas Tetteh-led side looked composed and forced Cameroonians into their own half for the large potion of the match with their stylish football.
Ransford Osei, Dominic Adiyiah, Dede and Daniel Oddo caused a stir in the Cameroon’s defence but pair failed to find the winner.
Ghana could have won it late on but Dede wasted a last minute chance as the junior Indomitable Lions played a physical with some last ditch defending.