How Amavubi can overcome the Ivorians

Former Arsenal and Liverpool defender, Kolo Toure, is Ivory Coast’s assistant coach. Net photo.

Against the Elephants of Ivory Coast at Kigali Stadium today, the Wasps will need luck on top of doing the unthinkable – to win the game.

A win will be very important for the host team to avoid a second defeat having lost 2-1 in their opening Group H match to Central Africa Republic in Bangui last year.

Without any question, the visitors have an upper hand and statistics speak for themselves.

The last time the two national teams faced-off in AFCON qualifiers, Ivory Coast hammered Amavubi 5-0 at Amahoro Stadium in Kigali.

Even though Crystal Palace star Wilfred Zaha is a surprise omission, English Premier League defenders Eric Bailly and Serge Aurier lead the Ivoirians in this game.

For Amavubi head coach Vincent Mashami, this AFCON qualifier is a tricky test, picking all the three points at home today will require them to use all that they have in the tank.

A defeat will be another kickback, having lost the opening AFCON game. However Mashami and his men need to do what Guinea did when they stunned Ivory Coast with a 3-2 win infront of their home fans in Bouake.

The challenge is that Amavubi lacks impressive finishers like Guinea’s Liverpool forward Naby Keita to terrorize the Ivoirians.

The good news is, Meddie Kagera is back in the national side. However, the absence of Jacques Tuyisenge with his searing pace and unpredictability is a headache to Mashami’s line-up.

The attacking duo of Kagera and Dany Usengimana will need to do more than just the ordinary if they are to break through the defensive wall of Eric Baily and Serge Aurier  .

The other big worry is the midfield department which will need some careful selection to avoid a gamble, especially since the team has not been tested in any competitive game.

Though he has the experience and exposure, injury-ravaged Captain Haruna Niyonzima has not been at his best since joining Simba SC some fifteen months ago.

He has missed in the starting 11 for most of the 2017-18 season and was dropped out of the club’s tour in Turkey this summer.

Right-back Michel Rusheshangoga has not played any competitive game for the last three months since parting company with Tanzanian side Singida FC. Holding midfielder Djihad Bizimana has played only one official game since joining Beveren in Belgium.

Overall, Mashami’s team is not that bad, eight players feature for foreign clubs – which makes it a good blend with the best in domestic football.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

 

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