Amavubi head coach Eric Nshimiyimana can only hope for divine intervention if his disappointing Amavubi side is to reach the last eight of the ongoing GOtv Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup championships in Kenya.
The Amavubi Stars, who have been considered among favourites to win the regional tournament in recent years, suffered back to back defeats in a space of five days – the latest a 1-0 loss to Sudan (on Monday), after going down by the same margin to defending champions Uganda Cranes.
Nshimiyimana said yesterday: “We are disappointed over the poor results in the past two matches. We have conceded easy goals, all from defensive blunders, which has left our qualification bid in tatters.”
But the coach also faults his attacking force for failing to get the goals despite the several goal-scoring opportunities created in the two games.
Yet he remains optimistic even as his team has the slimmest of chances to progress to the quarter finals in this year’s championships.
“We still have a game to play – against Eritrea. We will treat it like a final and hope that results in other matches are favourable to us,” he said.
Salah Ibrahim was Sudan’s hero in a game during which he punished Rwanda after pouncing on a defensive error by Ismael Nshutiyamagara to score the lone goal in a Group C match played at Nairobi City Stadium.
The North Africans started to threaten Rwanda’s backline as early as seventh minute when Nazar Hamid got to the end of Faris Abdalla’s cross with an acrobatic kick from six yards out but goalkeeper Jean Luc Ndayishimiye was alert and tipped it round for a corner.
In the 20th minute, Sudan threatened again, this time through Mohannad Tahir, who latched on to long clearance, controlling the ball in the box, before beating the keeper but not the cross bar.
The Rwandans appeared to have taken cue and masterminded an attack of their own from the left flank which ended with Meddie Kagere’s header parried away by Abdelrahman Ali.
Rwanda’s luck, however, ran out when a horrible mistake by Nshutiyamagara saw Salah Ibrahim easily win possession, who then spotted the Rwandan keeper off his line before powering home with a long range shot for his third goal in the tournament.
Nazar Hamid almost added a second just before the break but his shot hit side netting.
The second half started with Rwanda showing more purpose in the second half and in the 47th minute forced goalkeeper Abdel Rahman Ali Ibrahim into a goal line clearance from an Emery Bayisenge free kick. Rwanda’s protests that the ball had crossed the line couldn’t attract the referee’s attention.
Sudan survived another scare in the 72nd minute when the goalkeeper struggled to hold onto the ball off a corner kick, which dropped twice in front of desperate Amavubi players before he could reclaim it.
The loss means Rwanda remain without a point from two games even as they still have an outside chance of progressing into the quarter finals as best losers if they beat Eritrea with a big margin and other results go their way. But what’s certain is that their fate is now out of their hands.
In the Uganda game, the hosts scored in the 89th minute through Dan Sserunkuma.
The Amavubi Stars face Eritrea in their last group game tomorrow.
GOtv Cecafa Challenge Cup
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Tanzania v Burundi
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By Bonnie Mugabe,The New Times