Rwanda’s Amavubi head coach Vincent Mashami praised his players’ character despite a 2-1 home defeat to Cote d’Ivoire in their Group H Afcon qualifier at Kigali Stadium on Sunday.
Goals from Jonathan Kodjia in the 45+1 minute and Max Allain Gradel in the 48th minute were enough for Ibrahim Camara’s side to collect their first three points in the group stage qualifiers.
Uganda-born Rwanda international Meddie Kagere, who was playing his first match for Rwanda in four years, scored the consolation goal for the hosts.
“Football is all about taking your chances and today we didn’t take our chances after hitting the crossbar three times, which we were punished for. Despite the disappointing loss at home, I think my players did a great job and played some clean football,” said Mashami.
“It is off-putting because we had chances but failed to covert them. We have to learn from this as we prepare for the next four matches,” the former APR and Bugesera FC coach added.
Cote d’Ivoire coach Ibrahim Camara said that Rwanda is a good team. He underlined that he had studied well his opponents, which is why very crucial minor details determined the score line.
“Our communication on the pitch was better. We slowly grew our confidence in the game, and every player, regardless of their position, ensured we didn’t concede early. It’s that kind of team spirit that wins matches, I am very proud of my players,” Camara told Times Sport in a post-match interview.
It is the second loss for Rwanda after losing 1-2 to the Central African Republic (CAR) in the opening game of the 2019 Afcon qualifiers in June last year.
Cote d’ Ivoire had also lost their first game – against Guinea – and badly needed all points against Amavubi to revive their hope to reach next year’s Afcon finals in Cameroon.
After two match rounds, Amavubi are at the bottom of Group H table with no point.
Cote d’Ivoire are third on the standings with three points, a tally shared with the Central African Republic. Guinea top the table with a maximum six points following their home win over CAR.
Mashami’s Amavubi will be back in action on October 10, playing away to in-form Guinea before hosting the West Africans three days later in Kigali.