After Amavubi Stars defeat to Zambia yesterday in the second match of the third round of the 2010 World Cup and Africa Nations Cup qualifying campaign, a colleague said, Rwanda will next qualify for the Nations Cup in 2048.
It’s not doom mongering nor is it being negative or unpatriotic but I kind of agreed with him especially after we went through some reason as why it could take Rwanda 38 years from next year to qualify for the continental championship for only the second time.
Zambia beat Rwanda 1-0 without necessarily getting out the first and second gears; now imagine what would happen when the Amavubi Stars visit Egypt on July 5, a team much better than the Chipolopolo boys by a mile.
The Pharaohs have not only won the Nations Cup a record five times but they are the reigning champions and playing in front of their home fans, Tucak Branko’s team will need to play twice as they did yesterday if they’re to avoid a real beating, unless the Croat changes things around between now and July 5.
The defeat could have been bigger but thanks to Jean Claude Ndoli’s heroics between the goal posts, the final score only read Zambia 1-0 Rwanda.
The APR custodian saved a penalty and the corresponding rebound in addition to about seven or more other important saves—he won my Man of the Match gong.
Despite the defeat, the spirit among the players was right, the desire to get something out the game was there for everyone to see, the coach’s tactics were alright, not spot-on though yet a single blip in concentration gifted Zambia a priceless win and cost Rwanda what would have been a precious point.
You cannot fault the coach for putting out his team to play they way it did especially away from home and against opponents, who are better than you and are expected to win but I’m sure Tucak was left with a bitter taste in the mouth given the nature of the goal.
From his point of view, the timing of the goal was probably the most annoying than the easiness with which the goal scorer Rainford Kalaba eluded him supposed marker, Aloua Gaseruka.
Whatever Gaseruka brings to the national team, don’t ask me—he can’t finish a match without getting booked for stupid fouls, his concentration is suspect and because of his lack of game reading, he gives away cheap penalties.
Yesterday he gave away the penalty in the first half and he should give Ndoli a share of his match allowance for his double save and again it was his laxness that led to Zambia’s goal.
After the goalless draw against Algeria in the first qualifier, another blank is not what Tucak’s team needed for their confidence building going into what’s going to be the toughest fixture of the campaign so far against Egypt.
Unless the coach and all those he works find better strikers than Saidi Abedi and Labama Bokota and also remind Olivier Karekezi how to play football, finishing inside the top three in this group could be a distant dream.
For 90 minutes, Bokota did not have a single shot on goal—that’s disappointing from whatever angle you looked at it but it’s not his fault that he was trusted to lead the line despite not playing for his club (APR) for over a month before the national team was summoned to start preparing for the Zambia game.
When Saidi Abedi was introduced with 12 minutes left, his first contribution was to go into the referee’s book for dissent and when he got the opportunity to draw Amavubi level on the stroke of full time, he fluffed it well wide off the mark.
He had not played competitively for over three months but Tucak preferred him ahead of Rayon Sport captain Jimmy Gatete, who was an unused substitute!
One of the reasons my colleague gave for Rwanda having to hope to qualify for the next Nations Cup in 2048 was based on what’s happening to neighbours, Uganda, who first and last appeared at CAN final 31 years ago when they reached the final not but lost 2-1 to Ghana.
Just a joke
The difference between Uganda and Rwanda’s fortunes is that then, the Cranes were in their Hey days no wonder they were favourites in the final yet Rwanda defied odds to qualify for CAN Tunisia 2004.
Rwanda’s qualification five years ago was not down to being the best in the group of three, the other two teams being Uganda and Ghana but rather down to sheer luck, others preferred to call it mother luck and I totally in agreement.
Anyway, the whole discussion of 2048 and the comparison with Uganda’s ever stretching wait to return to the Nations Cup final was supposed to be a light joke but imagine that joke turning out to be a reality, how old will you be if you’re lucky to there and be witness as another bit of history is being done?
Federer the greatest
If Roger Federer wins at the French Open at Roland Garros today, he’ll equal Pete Sampras’s record 14 Grand Slams.
The Swiss world number two is just one step away from making history and his fans can’t wait to see him lift the French Open title to his rich collection of Grand Slams.
It’s surprising mostly to the neutrals and annoying to him and his fans that the Rolland Garros title is the only one still missing among the 13 Grand Slams to his name.
The one man standing between Federer’s dream of equalling the great Sampras’s record is world No 25 Robin Soderling, who eliminated defending champion Rafael Nadal.
Yet if the Swiss master, who’s still only 27 take full advantage of his mental strength that has seen him through to the final, he has the chance to win more Slams and have his name mentioned among the greatest ever—I can’t see him wasting this opportunity, after he isn’t facing his great nemesis Nadal, who had beaten him the previous four final in Paris.