Mashami defends decision to name youthful team for CAR tie

Vincent Mashami has stressed that it is time to invest in the future. File photo.

With Amavubi all but out of the running for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals, Amavubi head coach Vincent Mashami has insisted that “giving a chance to youngsters is the right thing to do” ahead of the return-leg against Central African Republic (CAR) next week.

Rwanda will host CAR in a match-day 5 Group ‘H’ clash at Huye Stadium on November 18.


Following the release of a 26-man provisional squad on Monday, Amavubi are expected to start intensive preparations for the CAR encounter this Friday in Huye District.


“After failing to impress in the first four games, which left us practically out of the race with two games to play, it was about time we made a shift and focus on youngsters. And it is not doing them a favour, it is the right thing to do,” Mashami told Times Sport on Thursday.


Then under the tutelage of German tactician Antoine Hey, Amavubi lost 2-1 to CAR in the first-leg tie, in Bangui, in June last year.

Amavubi are at the bottom of the group with one point after four games, a whopping nine points behind leaders Guinea and three adrift of third-placed CAR. Former African champions Ivory Coast are in second place with seven points.

Mashami added: “We gave a chance to young players with proven talent and potential to make impact. We are already thinking beyond these qualifiers, the exposure in the last two group games will help them to step up and earn valuable experience for future engagements.”

Among the 26 players reporting to residential camp, the former APR and Bugesera FC coach has included two uncapped youngsters Steve Rubanguka and Tresor Shema – both based in Belgium and Mukura right-back Hassan Rugirayabo.

Another trio of SC Kiyovu midfielder Rachid Kalisa, Mohamed Mushimiyimana of Police FC and Kenya-based forward Justin Mico were recalled to the national team for the first time in over two years.

Meanwhile, Amavubi will face CAR without Salomon Nirisarike. His Belgian side, AFC Tubize, informed Rwanda Football Association (Ferwafa) of the player’s eardrum complications on Wednesday, saying that he would be out for up to one month.

Mukura VS centre-back Saidi Iragire was given a call-up on Thursday to replace Nirisarike.

Asked why skipper Haruna Niyonzima and Jean Baptiste Mugiraneza are out of CAR tie, Mashami said that the two veteran midfielders were not in the best form at the moment.

“To return to winning ways, we have to invest in the future – which will at times require to drop experienced players and give space to fresh talents,” he stated.

After the game against CAR next Sunday, Amavubi will wrap up their Afcon 2019 group campaign against Ivory Coast in March next year.


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