Rwanda striker Ernest Sugira
Wednesday Jan 20, 2016. 16:58
African Nations Championship hosts Rwanda booked their place in the quarterfinals of the tournament with a 2-1 win over Gabon at the Amahoro Stadium in Kigali on Wednesday, with striker Ernest Sugira scoring both of their goals.
The win is Amavubi’s second of the 2016 CHAN, following their 1-0 victory over Ivory Coast on the opening day, and ensures that they will finish in the top two of Group A. However, they were given some scares in the final quarter of the match by a 10-man Panthers team that simply refused to give in.
There were few clear scoring chances created in a first half which was dominated by Rwanda. The hosts had to wait until the 42nd minute to break the deadlock, with Ernest Sugira latching onto a loose ball in the box before beating Yves Moto with a low shot.
Sugira made it 2-0 just a couple of minutes into the second half, cutting inside a challenge in the box before firing the ball into the top corner via the stinging palms of Moto, who did all he could to try and keep the shot out.
Gabon, who by this stage had made all three substitutions, looked dead and buried but they were gifted a lifeline in the 55th minute when goalkeeper Eric Ndayishimiye flapped at a cross from Mario Mandrault, allowing Aaron Boupendza to score with a header.
Just a couple of minutes later the ‘keeper Ndayishimiye redeemed himself with a sharp save to keep out a sliced attempt at a clearance from namesake Celestin Ndayishimiye, preventing a calamitous own goal which would have restored parity.
Gabon’s hopes of a comeback were soon quelled by the dismissal of Tchen Kabi, who picked up a second yellow card and was sent for an early shower by referee Janny Sikazwe.
Yet the Panthers didn’t lose belief in their ability to fight back, and they were so nearly rewarded with a second goal in the 83rd minute as substitute Stevy Nzambe had the beating of goalkeeper Ndayishimiye with his shot from a free kick, but the ball rebounded off the underside of the crossbar.
Rwanda’s final Group A match sees them take on Morocco in Kigali on Sunday, while Gabon will tackle Ivory Coast in a simultaneous game in Butare.