Amavubi head coach unfazed by CHAN rivals

Centre-back Thierry Manzi (L), seen here during a past friendly match against Tanzania, is likely to captain Rwanda at this year’s African Nations Championship in Cameroon. / Courtesy.

Rwanda has been pooled alongside powerhouse Morocco, Togo and regional rivals Uganda in Group C of the 2020 CHAN edition just over a month ahead of the tournament.

Amavubi head coach Vincent Mashami says that a winning start will be key to his side’s bid for a spot in the knockouts of the 6th Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) edition when the tournament gets underway on April 4 in Cameroon.

After featuring in three past editions, Rwanda has only made it past the group stage once, when the country hosted the tournament in 2016.

Mashami, who was an assistant coach during the 2016 CHAN tournament, will be facing his former boss Johnny McKinstry who has since been signed as Uganda Cranes head coach.

Rwanda and Uganda will face off early April in their opener at Stade de la Réunification, in Douala. But, by press time Tuesday, the date was yet to be determined.

“It is going to be a tough call,” Mashami admitted to this publication when asked about his side’s clash against regional rivals Uganda.

“We will need to start well if we are to achieve our target of getting out of the group stage, so the Ugandan game is a good test. We will treat it as a must-win. We, technical staff and players, did not expect a smooth passage to the knockouts, we should work for it.”

Rwanda’s Amavubi, Uganda Cranes and Taifa Stars of Tanzania will represent the Cecafa region in the continent’s second biggest football event. The latter have been drawn in Group D along with Namibia, Guinea and Zambia.

“Being pitted against Uganda has added a level of intrigue to the contest. My job is to ensure that we are ready for the challenge, and I believe we have what it takes.”

Amavubi booked their ticket to the CHAN 2020 finals last October after edging Ethiopia 2-1 on aggregate, thanks to goals from striker Ernest Sugira in either leg of the double-header tie.

Rwanda will be competing in CHAN for the fourth time overall and third in a row.

CHAN 2020 final draw

Group A: Cameroon, Mali, Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe

Group B: Libya, DR Congo, Congo Brazzaville, Niger

Group C: Morocco, Rwanda, Uganda, Togo

Group D: Zambia, Guinea, Namibia, Tanzania

pkamasa@newtimesrwanda.com

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