The senior national football team has reported to residential camp for intensive preparations ahead of their upcoming AFCON 2019 qualifier against Côte d’Ivoire next week.
Vincent Mashami’s side and the 2015 African champions will be going head-to-head in the two sides’ final Group H encounter of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers on March 23 at Stade Bouaké in Bouaké, Ivory Coast.
Côte d’Ivoire won the first-leg 2-1 at Kigali Stadium thanks to goals from Jonathan Kodjia and Max-Alain Gradel. Talisman Meddie Kagere netted the consolation goal for the hosts.
The Amavubi squad, of only home-based players, held their first training session at Amahoro Stadium on Thursday afternoon, and according to head coach Vincent Mashami, foreign-based players will start to jet in on Monday.
“We are going to be training twice a day for a duration of one week before heading to Ivory Coast on March 21. Foreign-based players will start joining us in camp on Monday,” Mashami told Times Sport after leading Thursday’s training at Amahoro Stadium.
The 27-man provisional squad is made of twenty players who feature in Azam Rwanda Premier League and seven foreign-based players including stand-in skipper Jacques Tuyisenge who will join the camp from Kenyan champions Gor Mahia on Monday.
Former APR coach Mashami and his men will be wrapping up their frustrating group campaign away to Ivory Coast after failing to win a single game in their first five games – having only managed two draws, and suffered three defeats, respectively.
“We know that we are out of the contest for a ticket to AFCON finals, but we still have the national pride to fight for. Our target is to win, not to gift points to Ivory Coast.”
Rwanda is bottom of Group H with only two points, three adrift of third-placed CAR. Guinea top the group with 11 points, followed by former African champions Ivory Coast with 8 points.
Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire have already booked tickets to the AFCON 2019 finals tournament, which is due on June 21 – July 19 in Egypt.
Kamara names Côte d’Ivoire squad
In the meantime, Ivorian head coach Ibrahim Kamara has announced a strong squad he will use against Amavubi come March 23.
The 24-player squad, which was released on Thursday, is led by Manchester United center-back Eric Baily, Tottenham right-back Serge Aurier and Crystal Palace striker Wilfried Zaha.
Of the 24 players in the ‘Les Elephants’ provisional squad, only SC Gagnoa goalie Cisse Abdoul Karim plies his trade with an Ivorian side. The rest play in foreign leagues – mostly in Europe.
Full 24-man Ivorian squad
Goalkeepers: Cisse Abdoul Karim, Badra Ali and Gbohouo Sylvain
Defenders: Eric Bailly, Serge Aurier, Kanon Wilfried, Abdoulaye Bamba, Wonlo Coulibaly, Ismael Traoré, Simon Dely and Mamadou Bagayoko
Midfielders: Serey Dié, Frank Kessie, Serri Jean Michaël, Ismael Diomande, Jean Philippe Gbamin and Angban Victorien
Forwards: Kodjia Jonathan, Assale Roger, Pépé Nicolas, Max Gradel, Maxwel Cornet, Yacou Meité and Wilfried Zaha.
Côte d’Ivoire Vs Rwanda
CAR Vs Guinea