VINCENT Mashami, interim coach of the men’s senior national football team, has vowed to guide Rwanda to the African Nations Championships (CHAN) 2020 and the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2021 finals tournaments.
Rwanda has been to AFCON finals once, in 2004, but has only missed two editions of the CHAN tournament – held once in two years – since its inception in 2009.
“I believe we have the quality and ability of making it both to the CHAN and AFCON finals. We just have to align the Zeal with commitment – from everyone involved – and character in preparations,” said Mashami.
The national team starts the qualification journey to the CHAN 2020 next month when they face Ethiopia in a two-legged tie, with the winner automatically securing their ticket.
Ethiopia will host the first-leg on September 20, before Rwanda hosts the decisive encounter on October 18. Amavubi were exempted from taking part in the preliminary round, while the Walias of Ethiopia progressed to the final round after edging out Eritrea 5-3 on aggregate.
However, prior to facing Ethiopia, Mashami’s side have the Seychelles to overcome in the preliminary round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. The team entered residential camp on Tuesday and have since been training twice a day at Kigali Stadium.
Asked about his team’s upcoming busy calendar in different competitions, Mashami said: “This is a good opportunity to get this team winning again. Players eagerly look forward to the challenge.”
“We want to eliminate Seychelles then immediately turn focus to Ethiopia tie for CHAN ticket. Thankfully, we have the advantage of traveling first and hosting the return-legs.”
Mashami and his men will face Seychelles on September 5 in the first-leg, with the return-leg scheduled for September 10 in Kigali.
Road to AFCON 2021
In the meantime, Rwanda has been placed in Group F in qualifiers for the 2021 AFCON finals tournament, along with the hosts Cameroun, Cape Verde and Mozambique.
Just like in 2003 when Amavubi qualified for the Tunisia 2004 AFCON, the team will have odds to defy as, according to the latest FIFA rankings, Rwanda is ranked lowest in 133rd position. Cameroun are 53rd, Cape Verde (76th), while Mozambique lie in 116th spot.
Amavubi will start the quest for first AFCON ticket in 17 years against Cameroun on November 19. Their second group game will be against Cape Verde on September 20, 2020.