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Rwanda’s Amavubi to Play a Friendly Match Ahead of Mozambique Tie

Rwanda has scheduled to play a friendly game before their Afcon 2017 qualifier against Mozambique in Kigali on June 4.

Rwanda Amavubi players celebrate goal when they slashed Mauritius 5-0 at Amahoro National Stadium.

The tie, a must-win for the Amavubi who are vying to finish as one of two second-best sides in 11 groups, will be treated as a do or die fixture according to head coach Johnny McKinstry who will soon announce the nation Amavubi will face in the friendly game.

Rwanda currently sit second in Group H with six points, half way through their target to guarantee qualification with two games left, the last away to Ghana in Accra in September.

Mozambique therefore stand in the way of a step in the right direction for the Amavubi who faltered last month when they lost 1-0 to Mauritius in Belle Vue before earning revenge 5-0 in Kigali.

“It is a must win game. We have been given a second chance due to a number of other results around Africa in the chase for ‘best runner up’ but to avail of that chance, we must take three points from Mozambique,” explained the optimistic McKinstry.

“If we can do that, then we move on to the final group game in September knowing that we have a fair chance to progress but it needs to start with three points in June.”

Rwanda stunned Mozambique 1-0 in Maputo last June in the Afcon 2017 qualifying opener however Mozambique have since changed coaches twice and McKinstry believes this could go a long way in giving them a new look.

Joao Chisanno was fired after the loss to Rwanda before former national team defender Helder ‘Mano Mano’ Muianga took over but he has since been replaced by former Liverpool and Portugal defender Abel Xavier who took over the reins in January to rescue Mozambique’s campaign.

“Given that Mozambique, have changed their coach not once, but twice since we played them last June, I think we can expect a different opponent in Kigali to the one we played in Maputo.”

“They will be desperate to get points on the board and not finish bottom of the group. They also have nothing to lose so we can expect a very difficult game against a team playing without pressure.”

McKinstry can however find comfort in the fact that he will have a fortnight to prepare his side for this must-win fixture, as he will also have all his players with the locally based players available after the end of the season on May 22.

“Given the time of year, with some of our players in Europe and other East African countries having already completed their league programme a few weeks earlier, a friendly ahead of playing Mozambique is important to ensure everyone is match fit and sharp going into the qualifier.”

“It will also give us extended time with the players over a two-week camp as opposed to the normal one-week. Again this is possible as many players are in their off-season and are therefore available for extra time. All of these things add together to allow us better preparation for what will be a very important game against Mozambique.”

The last and only time Rwanda has played at Afcon was in 2004 in Tunisia.

By Robert Muriisa, Supersport.

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