VINCENT Mashami, the head coach of the national football team Amavubi, has said that he is emphasising on building endurance for players as the team steps up preparations for the Cape Verde tie next month. Amavubi, with a 23-man squad, started residential camp at Golden Tulip Hotel last Friday and have since been training twice a day – either at Bugesera Stadium or Kigali Stadium. “We are mainly focused on fitness and strength training right now. Players have been out of action for seven months, so obviously their fitness level has gone down,” said Mashami. He added: “Some players trained at individual level during the lockdown, but others did not and have gained a lot of weight. To get back to their pre-Covid-19 fitness, there is a bit of serious work to do between now and the Cape Verde matches.” Rwanda and Cape Verde, both part of Group F in the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers, were initially set to face-off in March but the two matches were moved as the Covid-19 pandemic forced a widespread postponement of sporting events across the world. Under the rescheduled qualifiers, Cape Verde hosts Rwanda on November 14 before the return-leg takes place in Kigali on November 17. Both games will be played behind closed doors. Mashami’s side started the camp with only local players, while APR’s and foreign-based players will be joining the camp on October 25. “The players in camp know that we need to perform well against Cape Verde, so everyone is motivated to work hard for a place in the final selection.” After getting off to a humble start in the qualifiers campaign – having lost to Mozambique and Cameroon in their first two games, Amavubi sit bottom of Group F without a single point. Cameroon and Mozambique are joint leaders with 4 points apiece, whereas Cape Verde are third with 2 points.