Play-off: It’s now or never as Rwanda face Ethiopia – The New Times

by Zelalem

First leg
Ethiopia vs Rwanda

Nov. 12
Second leg
Rwanda vs Ethiopia

For Rwanda, it will be a case of now or never as Amavubi take on Ethiopia in the 2018 Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) finals play-off qualifier first leg in Addis Ababa today.

Rwanda and Ethiopia missed out the chance to qualify when they were eliminated by Sudan and Uganda respectively in August and they have got another chance to play at the continent’s second biggest international tournament which will take place from January 12 to February 4 in Morocco.

Rwanda lost to Uganda on a 2-3 aggregate despite winning the home return leg 2-0, while Ethiopia had also been knocked out by Sudan 2-1 on aggregate.

The winner over the two legs will join Uganda and Sudan as representatives of the CECAFA region.

Amavubi head coach Antoine Hey is optimistic that his side can eliminate Ethiopia and earn place at the finals tournament for the third time since its inception in 2009.

“We want to prove that we deserved to be in Morocco as one of the 16 teams in this attractive tournament and this would be very good for Rwandan football,” the Germany tactician said before the team’s departure on Friday.

He added, “Qualification to Morocco finals is possible, I believe in my players not only because of this match, even before because they have quality.”

“Our aim is to get a goal or two in Ethiopia so we can finish the job at home in a week’s time. It will be tough to play away from home, but we have to manage the situation and find a way to get something from home. An away goal will be important,” noted the former Kenya coach.

Rwanda and Ethiopia are vying for a final place at next year’s CHAN finals following Egypt’s withdrawal after the country’s clubs refused to release players as the tournament for home-based footballers is not staged during a FIFA international window.

Rwanda took part in the 2011 edition held in Sudan, managing a group stage finish before hosting the 2016 edition where they reached the quarter-final round, losing to eventual winners DR Congo, 2-1 in extra-time.

But DR Congo will not be able to defend their title as they lost the qualification bid to Congo Brazzaville. The draw for the finals tournament is scheduled for November 17 in Morocco.

Amavubi 18-man squad:

Goalkeepers: Eric Ndayishimiye (Rayon Sports) and Marcel Nzarora (Police FC)

Defenders: Faustin Usengimana (Rayon Sports), Eric Rutanga (Rayon Sports), Saddam Nywandwi (Rayon Sprts), Soter Kayumba (AS Kigali), Celestin Ndayishimiye (Police FC), Eric Iradukunda (AS Kigali) and Thierry Manzi (Rayon Sports).

Midfielders: Djihad Bizimana (APR FC), Oliver Niyonzima (Rayon Sports), Muhadjir Hakizimana (APR FC), Ally Niyonzima (AS Kigali) and Yannick Mukunzi (Rayon Sports).

Forwards: Innocent Nshuti (APR FC), Justin Mico (Police FC), Abeddy Biramahire (Police FC) and Djabel Manishimwe (Rayon Sports).

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