What’s the best way to make yourself an instant hero with football fans? Here I’m not talking about just your average Rwanda fan or you reading this, but I mean every football fans world over.
Well running round like a man possessed in your playing days and then playing your cards right while learning a lot with all the men you’ve worked under as their assistants, but above all, winning five of your first six games in charge of your country’s national team.
If that doesn’t make you an instant hero, then nothing will. This is the funny but rather interesting story of Amavubi Stars interim coach Eric Nshimiyimana.
And more performances like those the Amavubi team put on at the just concluded Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup in Nairobi, and we final have a local man in charge of his country’s national team for in full capacity after years of misses with a white man in charge.
Desperation or just plain shrewd judgement by Nshimiyimana in a job he knows he has little chance (if any) of having full time? Whatever your pick, the former Rwandan international made quite a statement as far proving that even the local coaches can cut it given the chance.
The first signs of Nshimiyimana’s potential to become a good coach at the top look good in the early stage of his coaching career but the fear is that he might not be able to cut it at the highest level where all his apart from Djokovic Ratomir failed, others quite miserably.
African teams have for a long fizzled out their own sons due to what most call lack of experience and man management skill have since been allayed by Nshimiyimana.
The former APR and Kiyovu midfielder took everyone by surprise when he led out his youthful side playing probably the best football in the regional tournament that also attracted visiting teams Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Five wins out of six even at the Cecafa standards isn’t a mean feat and although this shouldn’t be the yardstick to give the AS Kigali coach the job fulltime, it’s a record that shouldn’t be ignored by the appointing authorities.
If it was a test, he and his players passed it with flying colours.
My point in all this debate is not about giving Eric the job full time but that local coaches shouldn’t be left out when considering the next Amavubi head coach. With the long term plan being to build the national team around young Rwandan players, then having these boys under the guidance of someone they can easily relate to, is something that must be seriously considered.
It may not necessarily be Nshimiyimana but the bottom line is that he has proved that there potential in the home grown talent to do what the Europeans can do.
We’ve tried all kinds of European coach from Ratomir, Roger Palmegren, Michael Nees, Josip Kuze and most recently Branko Tucak without much success, so what more do we have lose trying one of our own?
Without much competitive international football in the next 15 months so, it would be wise if the current squad is kept together and just add in a few senior faces not disrupt the good brotherly togetherness in the dressing room.
It’s been long since fans and those who take trouble to follow Amavubi Stars progress had hope in their team.
There may be quite a good number disagreeing with the idea of retaining the current status quo but what I saw in Nairobi from this current squad left me convinced that, given confidence and support from whoever cares to, then the future of the national team doesn’t look as bleak as Nees and Tucak had made us to believe.
Whatever your verdict so far, nobody could complain after Nshimiyimana and his young team did while reaching the final of a tournament not very many gave them a chance to even go beyond the group stage. Keep the faith.