‘Wasps’ out to sting Libya for a win
Englishman Stephen Constantine debuts as Rwanda coach this weekend and has the chance to make an instant impact by causing an Africa Cup of Nations shock.
The central Africans host Libya, a team 27 places higher in the CAF rankings, level on aggregate having forced a 0-0 first-leg draw.
And playing in Kigali offers the Rwandan ‘Wasps’ a potentially crucial advantage over the Libyan ‘Mediterranean Knights’.
But former Nepal, India, Malawi and Sudan handler Constantine is hyper-cautious ahead of the second round, second leg qualifier for the 2015 tournament in Morocco.
“We face a serious challenge as Libya are a good team,” said the 51-year-old coach who came to Rwanda from a Cypriot club post.
“I hope Rwandans will come to the stadium in large numbers and support us. Our aim is to win by playing attractive football.
“Raising Rwandan football standards is my mission and a victory over African Nations Championship title-holders Libya would be a wonderful start.”
Constantine watched the first leg, which was played at the Tunisian national stadium because of post-Moamer Kadhafi Libyan internal conflict.
The Kigali fixture is among 13 scheduled between Friday and Sunday with places in the final qualifying round ahead of the group stage up for grabs.
While Mozambique and Benin appear certain to advance, many other ties are delicately balanced with Kenya and Uganda less favourably placed than anticipated.
Kenya were expected to win comfortably against visiting Comoros Islands, but scored only once through a first-half John Omollo thunderbolt.
However, Belgium-born coach Adel Amrouche says what really matters is that the ‘Harambee Stars’ did not concede a goal in Nairobi.
“I was happy with the result because we did not allow the Comoros to score an away goal,” the former Burundi coach said.
“We played well and should have won more decisively. The Comorans impressed when they counter-attacked and we need to work on that threat.”
Uganda are 38 places above Madagascar on the CAF rankings, so it came as a surprise when they fell 2-1 on the vast Indian Ocean island.
It could have been even worse as Malagasy scorer Faneva Andriatsima from French second-tier club US Creteil-Lusitanos missed a penalty.
And the Ugandan ‘Cranes’ snatched a potentially crucial away goal two minutes into stoppage time off a Hamis Kiiza spot-kick.
Madagascar coach Franck Rajaonarisamba told AFP he is hoping massed defence in Kampala can keep Uganda at bay.
“Whenever they attack, we will have at least four defenders and three midfielders behind the ball.
“We also want to score and cancel the away-goal advantage Uganda have at the moment.
“Uganda are strong, especially in midfield, but we have high hopes of success. After training every morning and evening, my squad is ready.”
New Tanzania coach Mart Nooij from the Netherlands says the tie with Zimbabwe could tilt either way after his team established a 1-0 lead in Dar es Salaam.
An early John Bocco goal separated the ‘Taifa Stars’ and the ‘Warriors’ and this tie could be settled by away goals or a penalty shootout.
Congo Brazzaville, who hired widely-travelled French coach Claude le Roy to secure a place at the 2015 finals, must overcome a 1-0 defeat in Namibia to reach the third round.
Malawi coach Young Chimodzi believes a 2-0 lead over Chad will suffice to survive in N’Djamena, a city where temperatures can soar above 40 degrees celsius (104 degrees fahrenheit).
Mauritania arrived in Equatorial Guinea with a 1-0 lead and training was delayed as they sought new accommodation after accusing the hosts of treating them like “prisoners of war”.
Afcon 2015 Qualifying
Saturday 31 May 2014
Rwanda v Libya
Uganda v Madagascar
Guinea Bissau v Central Africa Republic
Sierra Leone v Swaziland
Sunday 01 June 2014
Lesotho v Liberia
Botswana v Burundi
Zimbabwe v Tanzania
Congo v Namibia
Benin v Sao Tome
Chad v Malawi
Equatorial Guinea v Mauritania