Rwanda beat Congo to advance to the final round of the Africa Cup of Nations 2015 qualifiers. I am one of the many who never believed this was going to be possible. Yes, I must admit. I will take this straight to the chin.
Having lost the first leg by 2-0, it all seemed over, but the young lads had other thoughts. They eventually outdid themselves by leveling the score in the return leg and went on to win in penalty shootouts.
Whatever coach Stephen Constantine told the boys, whatever training methods he used and whatever state of mind they were in as they stepped onto that pitch – that is exactly what we needed. For a nation so thirsty for some sports glory, that was a major boost and all credit to the coach and his team.
When the match kicked off last Saturday, Congo somehow believed that they would turn us into fodder just like they had done in the first leg. And when the first half ended scoreless, it seemed like Rwanda was on its way out.
However, the second half came with a beautiful twist. Michel ‘Bugesera’ Ndahinduka slotted home in the 52nd minute and, only seven minutes later, Meddie Kagere made it 2-0, to cancel out our deficit.
And, yes, in the penalty shootouts, we were simply a class above Congo.
What makes the win even juicer is the fact Congo comfortably sits at 19th spot in Africa’s Fifa Rankings, with Rwanda 11 places further down.
Progress in the Cup is superb, but it also means that the huddles get even harder. We were pitted in Group A alongside powerhouse Nigeria, which is ranked second in Africa and 25th in the world. South Africa and Sudan complete the group – only two teams will progress to the Afcon 2015 finals tournament in Morocco.
Come September, Amavubi will travel to Nigeria to face Super Eagles in a test that promises to be the hardest for Rwanda in recent years.
Nigeria and South Africa are widely expected to sail through the group without much hustle, with Rwanda and Sudan regarded as underdogs.
However, football is what it is because it has always defied logic. Underdogs who believe have over and over again reached heights, while super favourites have often been left in pain after losing games they imagined would be easy.
Time and history may not on our side but Rwanda does have a young squad that is bursting with talent with Meddie Kagere, Emery Bayisenge, Patrick Sibomana and Haruna Niyonzima all looking sharp.
Pull off a win against the Nigeria and we will surely go all the way!
@RushAfrican on Twitter