Rwanda look to tame Mambas in Group L opener

Rwanda look to tame Mambas in Group L opener
Rwanda team photo during the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier between Rwanda and Mali

by Graeme Jackson

Wednesday Jun 01, 2022. 11:00

Rwanda will chase an away win over ‘hosts’ Mozambique when the teams meet for a 2023 Africa Cup of Nations Group L qualification match at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa on the evening of Thursday 2 June.

Kick-off is at 6pm CAT.

‘Soccer City’ is being used due to a lack of CAF-approved venues in Mozambique.

The Mambas will be looking to break a lengthy absence from the AFCON finals, having not appeared at the tournament since the 2010 edition in Angola.

Their attempt to reach the 2021 edition in Cameroon saw them finish bottom of a group which featured the Indomitable Lions, Cape Verde and their opponents this week, Rwanda.

Coach Chiquinho Conde, who has been in charge since late 2021, will attempt to lead Mozambique back to the AFCON, though they will be missing key man Luis Miquissone due to a long-term knee injury, and their preparation has not been the most promising, after suffering a friendly defeat at the hands of Eswatini last week.

Rwanda, who finished behind Cameroon and Cape Verde in qualifying for the 2021 AFCON, are looking to return to the continental showpiece for the first time since 2004.

The Amavubi recently handed the coaching reins to Spanish tactician Carlos Alos Ferrer, and the 46-year-old former goalkeeper is upbeat about their chances, though he stopped short of promising a return to the Nations Cup finals.

“I am happy with the players I have, they are giving it 100 percent in training and I was motivated by their commitment – on and off the field. We are really happy as a group,” he said.

“My job is to prepare players for the game, they do the execution. We will, obviously, give it all we got.”

In head-to-head terms, Mozambique and Rwanda have met in four matches dating back as far as 2015. All four have been in AFCON qualification, with each side claiming two wins.

Their most recent meetings were in November 2019 (2-0 home win for Mozambique) and March 2021 (1-0 home win for Rwanda).

The other Group L fixture for Matchday 1 sees reigning AFCON champions Senegal host Benin in Dakar on the evening of Saturday 4 June.

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