Karekezi retires from Amavubi
AMAVUBI and APR playmaker Olivier Karekezi has retired from international football, ending a 13-year spell with the national team in which he scored 25 goals in 53 appearances.
In a statement released by the Rwanda Football Federation on Sunday night, Karekezi said that, “I feel it is time for young players with great capacity in football to step up and take my position. I have decided that it is time for me to leave the national team.
He went on to say, “It is with great respect and honor that I thank Rwanda and my teammates in Amavubi for these years I have played and been captain for the national team. I have been giving it a lot of thoughts and considerations,”
“I am very happy for all the experience and goals we have achieved as a team and I will always remember my time with great memories. We have come a long way as a team, longer than many have anticipated and it is all thanks to my teammates and the coaches. But we would never have become who we are if it wasn’t for the support from Rwanda, the government, fans, federation and the media.”
He further added, “I want to give His Excellency President Paul Kagame special thanks. It was with great honor we went out and played after he gave us courage and spoke with the team personally before we reached Africa Cup 2004. I will always remember how he during all these years has supported Amavubi.”
The 30-year-old Karekezi, made his debut for Amavubi in 2000 during the 2-all clash against Cote d’Ivoire in the qualifiers for the 2002 World Cup and a year later, the CA Bizertin forward, scored his final international in 2001 against Somalia during the Cecafa Challenge Cup where Amavubi defeated Somalia 3-0.
In July, Karekezi had hinted on his retirement but announced that he would do so in 2015 after his Bizertin’s contract expires. At that time, he said, “Yes, I am finally hanging up my boots for good! Playing football is all I have ever wanted to do and I think I have achieved all I ever wanted in my career.”
“I don’t expect to renew my contract with Bizertin when it expires in March, 2015. I will see what to do next but of course working on my coaching badges will be one of my priorities,” added Karekezi.
Karekezi joined CA Bizertin, after his second stint at APR on a two-year contract in September last year.
He left after helping APR to the national football league title as well as the MTN Peace Cup tournament, having scored 14 goals.
Karekezi’s career started with APR way back in 2002 before he left to join Sweden’s top division club Helsingborgs IF in 2005.
He scored five goals in 18 matches during the 2005 season. In 2006, he scored 11 goals for Helsingborg, becoming the top scorer in Allsvenskan.
In January 2008, Karekezi moved to Norwegian side Hamarkameratene. In March 2010, he returned to Sweden and played for second division club Östers IF for two years.
He is the only player who featured in 2004 Nations Cup final who retained a regular place in the Amavubi team which is currently managed by his former teammate Eric Nshimiyimana.
His last international match was during the 1-0 loss to Algeria played in May and he was also on Eric Nshimiyimana’s list for the final Group H match against Benin due on September 8 in Porto Novo.
Tanzania’s based Young Africans striker Haruna Niyonzima will take over the mantle from Karekezi as Amavubi skipper as the country begins a new journey without the old guard.