Rwanda face uphill battle in Dakar

Rwanda face uphill battle in Dakar
Muhire Kevin of Rwanda challenged by Renildo Isnard Mandava of Mozambique during the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifier match between Mozambique and Rwanda at the FNB Stadium, Johannesburg on the 02 June 2022 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Monday Jun 06, 2022. 13:00

Rwanda will face an uphill battle when they take on Senegal in a Group L 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the Diamniadio Olympic Stadium in Dakar on Tuesday 7 June, kick-off at 21:00 CAT.

This match was supposed to be a home fixture for Rwanda, but the teams agreed to swap around their hosting duties and allow for the Huye Stadium to undergo renovations.

The East Africans made a solid start to their group stage campaign by holding Mozambique 1-1 in Johannesburg, South Africa, last Thursday.

The Amavubi looked on course for an upset away win when a superb strike from Blaise Nishimwe put them ahead midway through the second half, but the Mambas hit back through Stanley Ratifo to see the game end all square.

“In general I am very happy with the commitment of the players. I can’t complain. It’s just that we had our situation when the game came to us in 1-0,” said Rwanda coach Carlos Alos Ferrer.

“We were concentrated all the game, but after we scored the goal we conceded in two minutes. One more detail we concede a goal and finally draw, but in general I can only say good things for my players.

“I want to win always. I am a winner. I try but, at least it’s not a bad result. It’s the first game we are playing away and we also know the level of Mozambique; they have good individual players. It’s okay at this point. Let’s keep fighting.”

Senegal, meanwhile, got off to a flying start when they defeated Benin 3-1 at the very same Diamniadio Olympic Stadium on Saturday night. Sadio Mane scored a hat-trick of goals – bookended by penalties – to ensure the Teranga Lions began the defence of their title in a fashion befitting continental champions.

Following Mane’s heroics for Senegal against Benin, coach Aliou Cisse has added his voice to those calling for the Liverpool player to win the Ballon d’Or.

“Of course we think about it [the player winning the award]. I believe that Sadio gave a lot, we must not minimise everything he did in Liverpool for seven years, what he did in the Senegal national team,” said Cisse.

“At some point, I want to know what place an African champion really takes on the choices [for the Ballon d’Or].He won the AFCON, he went to the Champions League final… I hope it weighs [in his favour].

In head-to-head stats, Rwanda and Senegal have met in just one previous match: a friendly international in May 2016 in Kigali which the Teranga Lions won 2-0.

The other Matchday 2 fixture in Group L will see Benin host Mozambique in Cotonou on Wednesday 8 June.

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