In 2004, Rwanda participated in the Africa Nations’ Cup held in Tunisia for the first time in the history of the nation’s football. Ever since then, the country has undergone through disquieting moments in bid to once again compete in the continental show piece.
So many plans were employed; from short cuts to long term investments but none could grant us passage back to the Nations cup final and as a matter of fact, we missed the Egypt (2006), Ghana (2008), Angola (2010), Gabon/Equatorial Guinea (2012) editions and again we have missed on next year’s edition which will be hosted by South Africa.
We all remember how we lost to Nigeria in the second round having forced the Super Eagles to a goalless draw in Kigali’s first leg show before succumbing to a 0-2 loss in Calabar to bow out of the competition.
Despite missing out on South Africa, we can work hard and be optimistic as we fully prepare a solid team for 2015 edition which will be held in Morocco.
Preparations should actually be underway and as other nations are bidding to compete in next year’s Africa Nations Cup final; our focus should be on how to help our new Amavubi team get international exposure such that they can gain the needed experience to be in good position of staging a successful qualification campaign which begins in 2014.
Coach Sredojovic Milutin Micho has embarked on a long journey that many Rwandans seem not to understand because we are used to short cuts in bid to get quick results and this has been one of the reasons why our football is not growing but simply rickety.
The Serbian with support from the government has ensured that some of our elite players go for professional football in different leagues of the world. Meddie Kagere (Esperance de Zarsis), Steven Godfroid (Vietnam), Olivier Karekezi (Bizerte FC) and many other players namely Jean Claude Iranzi, Imran Nshimiyimana, Tumaine Ntamuhanga will soon join professional ranks.
Both Kagere and Karekezi are joining other professional players like Solomon Nirisarike (Antweerp), Elias Uzamukunda (As Cannes) who will in January most likely join a French top flight club with Micho’ assistance, Mbuyu Twite and Haruna Niyonzima (Yanga) to mention but a few.
Being in the process to help these players go for professional ranks, he has been dubbed a players’ agent by some Ferwafa officials. He is doing what these officials and other coaches have failed to do but the only reward is to be called an agent. It is better to appreciate people’s efforts than heap them with spiteful insults.
I would advise responsible Ferwafa boss Celestin Ntagungira and his ‘eye’ secretary general Michel Gasingwa to be supportive of his efforts than joining destructors in sabotaging his work.
The current crop of Amavubi players need to be given international exposure and constant follow-up in their clubs so as to improve their game. The team which Micho paraded against Namibia in this month’s friendly match played in Windhoek was a true sign that we have potential players who can go as far as excelling on the international stage.
The passion, determination and commitment exhibited during the Namibia game which ended in a goalless draw had never been exhibited before and it is better they continue from where they stopped.
How can this be achieved? We have a return leg against Namibia on November 11 in Kigali, I know Micho will still add in one or two young blood which never featured in the first leg and this will go along to help in elevating their career.
Ferwafa with support from the Ministry of Sports and Culture should give these players more exposure most especially by playing against top ten nations in Africa. If we really want to nurture these youngsters into serious footballers, help them play alongside elite players from Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Egypt, Algeria, Zambia, Tunisia, Tunisia, Gabon and Libya.
Don’t mind about the results at the moment, go into these friendly matches with one thing on mind; let the youngsters play and enjoy football and any mistakes committed in these matches will help them to improve their careers.
Investment is also needed at this time and this is why the Ministry of Sports and Culture should be fast to understand the need of international friendly matches. I know with contacts of several football-minded people, we can get international friendly matches at cheap or no cost just because of the relations. It is better the Ministry of Sports and Culture fully supports this team at this stage if we are to get needed results in the next two years.
However, Ferwafa should stop the habit of being fed every time. Even if Ferwafa has no one who can solicit national team sponsorship, I would advise them to outsource for professional and experienced people in this field if they are to also make a step forward.
They are so many great ideas and potential areas which can be fully exploited to get such sponsorships but it needs innovative and creative minds to execute such tasks. So give room for these football-minded technicians to help you improve the game other than shutting doors for them because of fearing to expose your weak points.
Put personal interests and mischievousness aside and work for the common good of developing our national teams as well as football in general.
This is the right time to prepare for both Morocco (2015) and Libya (2017) if the right measures are employed in regards to Amavubi team. We all know the damages created by short cuts and if they are continued to be embraced, then be assured that we are doomed.
With support from every football stake holder, Micho who has the ability to transform Rwanda into a well-organised side with immediate effect and he can prepare and assemble a star-studded team that can start playing 2014 Afcon qualifiers with no strain at all.
In November two friendly matches should be staged for Amavubi before heading into Cecafa Challenge Cup in Uganda in December.
Then next year, they should play more international matches in January and February before facing Mali in the world cup qualifiers. We don’t need to qualify for the World cup because if even we did, we would be punching bags in Brazil.
By mid next year, with the experience gained, these youngsters would be in good position to eliminate the winner between Eritrea and Ethiopia and qualify for the Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) which will be held in South Africa.
Once this plan is implemented, I can guarantee that Amavubi would be slowly improving on its rankings and achieving its goal of joining the top ten nations in Africa by 2017.
We could easily qualify for Morocco Nations cup final in 2015 and be able to retain the Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) title in Kigali in 2016 before once again heading to Libya for the 2017 edition.
It is in the DNA and character of a championship winning side to grind out results even when not playing well. Rwanda needs to face facts and make necessary changes. The best possible preparations should be on course now or the dreams of ever getting back into Africa Nations’ Cup final will remain in the pipe.
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