Christophe Mukunzi, the national volleyball team captain, has rallied his teammates to ‘view the title as the only guarantee’ for the 2019 All-Africa Games ticket when the Zone V Championship gets underway in Nairobi, Kenya.
The regional tournament, running from Monday through June 9, will double as qualifiers for the biggest sporting event on the continent, which will be held in Morocco, in August.
Rwanda will have an uphill task to overcome against African powerhouse Egypt and hosts Kenya among other pre-tournament favourites, but Mukunzi is confident that “Anything is possible.”
Mukunzi, 30, and vastly experienced right-attacker Lawrence Yakan Guma will be looking to lead the country to a third consecutive presence at the All-Africa Games following the 2011 Mozambique edition and the 2015 Congo-Brazzaville games.
The senior national team, then under the guidance of Kenyan tactician Paul Bitok, finished fourth at both occasions.
“We are a blend of young energetic and experienced players, and that gives me confidence that we can win against anyone in Nairobi. We will not fear any opponent,” said Mukunzi who inspired his club Rwanda Energy Group to their historic first league title this month.
Captaining the national team since 2011, Mukunzi urges the team to have the right mentality and a winning attitude, and the rest will fall into place.
“Winning starts with mentality. If we write ourselves off before the tournament, then going to Kenya would be a wasted trip. We are traveling to challenge for the title and we are aware that is our only guarantee to qualify for the [All-Africa] games,” he added.
At the 2015 All-Africa Games, Rwanda finished fourth after losing to Egypt in a five-set thriller while Algeria beat hosts Congo-Brazzaville to clinch the title.
By press time Thursday, only six countries; Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Sudan, Egypt and Rwanda had confirmed their participation in the week-long tournament.
Coached by legendary setter Elie Mutabazi, the Rwandan delegation will depart Kigali for the competition this Sunday. Mutabazi is due to announce his final 14-man squad Saturday.