RWANDA’s U23 national team have stepped up preparations ahead of the upcoming first-leg clash against DR Congo in the first round qualifiers of the 2019 Total U-23 Africa Cup of Nations.
The Olympic Amavubi team will host neighbours DR Congo in the first-leg at Umuganda Stadium, in Rubavu District, on Wednesday before traveling to Kinshasa for the decisive encounter a week later.
Head coach Jimmy Mulisa has trimmed the squad in camp to 26 players, down from the initial 35-man team. The former Rwanda international has also added Marines duo of Blaise Nishimwe and Yakuba Byukusenge to the squad.
“We are taking the game very seriously, and we want a big win in the first leg by all means. The mood in camp in excellent and players are determined to get the job done,” Mulisa said.
The dropped players include goalkeeper Adolphe Hakizimana (Isonga), defenders Amza Runanira (Marines) and Derrick Ndahiro (SC Villa, Uganda), and midfielders Janvier Bonane (Kiyovu), Borde Cyitegetse (AS Kigali), Sadjati Niyonkuru (Marines), Tresor Byumvuhore (Gasogi), Jean Baptiste Rugambwa (Gasogi) as well as AS Kigali’s Freddy Muhoza.
The winner between Rwanda and DR Congo will take on Morocco in the second round, which will be played in March next year. The third and final round will be staged in June.
The tournament, slated for November 8-22 2019, will determine three teams that will represent Africa at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan.
This will be the 3rd edition of the Africa U-23 Cup of Nations.