Amavubi slip further in Afcon qualifiers

Amavubi’s goal scorer Meddie Kagere tries to go past Ivory Coast and Manchester United’s Eric Bailly and his fellow defender Serge Aurier of Tottenham Hotspur teammate (left) at Kigali Stadium in Nyamirambo yesterday. Sam Ngendahimana.

AFCON2019 Qualifiers results

Rwanda  1-2  Côte d’Ivoire
Guinea  1-0  CAR
Madagascar  2-2  Senegal
South Sudan  0-3  Mali
Togo  0-0  Benin
Ethiopia  1-0  Sierra Leone
Congo  1-1  Zimbabwe
Angola  1-0  Botswana
Swaziland  0-2  Tunisia
Lesotho  1-1  Cape Verde

Amavubi slipped further in their bid to qualify for the Afcon finals for the first time in 14 years after losing their second Group H qualifier against Les Elephants of Côte d’Ivoire at Kigali Stadium on Sunday.

Goals from Jonathan Kodjia and Max Allain Gradel either side of halftime were enough for Ibrahim Camara’s side to collect their first three points in the 2019 Afcon qualifiers, while Meddie Kagere, who was playing his first match for Rwanda in four years, scored the consolation goal for the hosts.

It is the second loss for Rwanda after losing 1-2 to Central African Republic in the opening game of the qualifiers in June last year.

Ivory Coast had also lost their first game – against Guinea – and badly needed all points against Amavubi to kick off their campaign.

Kodjia capitalised on a glaring error from Amavubi goalkeeper Olivier Kwizera shortly before recess to put the visitors ahead before Max Alain Gradel doubled the lead following a defensive mistake by right-back Fitina Ombalenga two minutes after the break.

Kagere pulled one back through a header in the 64th minute following an  Ombalenga assist.

Rwanda started the brighter side with captain Haruna Niyonzima, full-back Eric Rutanga and midfielder Muhadjir Hakizimana doing most of the running and stringing passes while Kagere proved a tough opponent for Manchester United defender Eric Bailey.

Djihad Bizimana was the first to test Ivorian goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo with a stinging shot which he parried away with the ball hitting the crossbar in the process in the eighth minute.

Amavubi dominated the proceedings in the first ten minutes with good display from Niyonzima, Kagere, Yannick Mukunzi and Hakizimana.

Hakizimana and Kagere had chances each to score but failed to beat the target in the fifth and tenth minutes, respectively.

After 30 minutes the Ivoirians started to gain confidence and playing short passes as they tried to penetrate into Rwanda’s box but were largely kept out by holding midfielder Jean Baptiste Mugiraneza and centre-backs Salomon Nirisarike and Abdul Rwatubyaye. 

Buoyed by their 1-0 lead by half-time, the Ivoirians returned from the break more confident and were controlling possession and putting the hosts under pressure.

Mashami introduced striker Danny Usengimana for Hakizimana and the former added a sting to the Amavubi’s attack, missing a glaring opportunity in the 85th minute with his headed ball going wide. 

Mukunzi also made way for fellow midfielder Kevin Muhire, while Jean Claude Iranzi also came on for Niyonzima.  With fifteen minutes to play, the victors made two tactical substitutes for Cheick Kader Doukoure, who replaced Die Serge, while Roger Claver Assale came on for Nicolas Pepe.

In the other Group H qualifier match, Guinea beat Central African Republic 1-0, to go clear at the top of the table with six points.

Ivory Coast and CAR have three points each.

Having picked up no point from their last two games Amavubi are at the bottom of the four-team Group H table, making their push for their second-ever appearance at Afcon finals an uphill task. 

Guinea are the Wasps’ next opponents.

Next year’s Afcon finals will be staged in Cameroon.

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