Rwanda’s U-20 national team lost to Zambia in the second round’s first leg, a result which hinders the country’s qualification to Niger 2019 Africa Cup of Nations tournament.
Following a bright start in the first round, where Rwanda edged Kenya 2-2 on aggregate, the Junior Wasps could not maintain their good form as they succumbed to a 2-0 home loss in the first leg played on Saturday at Stade de Kigali.
Francisco Mwepu scored in either half to give the Junior Chipolopolo a first leg cushioning ahead of the return next week in Lusaka.
Mwepu, whose brother Enoch was a member of the Zambia squad that won the African title on home soil last year, broke the deadlock on 33 minutes to give visitors the lead at the interval.
After several unsuccessful attempts, the hosts had their problems compounded when Protais Sindambiwe was sent off on 59 minutes for a tackle on Lameck Banda.
With a man down, the numerical disadvantage was a gain for the Zambians and Mwepu sealed victory with his second of the day on 79 minutes.
The Junior Wasps missed three clear chances in the opening minutes of the game, a feat which came to haunt them as they found themselves behind and could not be able to break down the Zambian defense.
The Junior Wasps head coach Mashami Vincent said, “It’s a big blow losing the home game and this will hamper our qualification to the next and final round,”
“We will go to Lusaka and try to improve our weakness and remain optimistic going into the return leg. We still have 90 minutes to play for but it will be a toll order for us to secure a win away in Zambia,” added Mashami.
Zambia Under-20 assistant coach Charles Bwale said the team will not sit on its laurels after having recording a significant 2-0 away first leg result against Rwanda.
Bwale said that Zambia will approach the second leg in Lusaka as fiercely as they did with the first match that saw Francisco Mwepu bag a brace to give the African champions a healthy first-leg lead.
“I think today’s game is water under the bridge and we cannot sit back since we have won 2-0 because we have the second leg which is in Lusaka,” he said.
“We need to prepare well because we have seen the weaknesses and strengths of Rwanda. The game in Lusaka is a different ball game so we will not sit and say we have won.”
Zambia will host Rwanda on Saturday in Lusaka with the winner over two legs facing either Sudan or Burundi in the final qualifying round.
Rwanda has not been to finals of the biennial championship since 2009 as host and have a mountain to climb in the reverse next week.
The winner will face either Burundi or Sudan for a place at the final tournament scheduled for 2-17 February 2019 in Niger.
Friday, 11 May 2018
Algeria 0-0 Ghana
Saturday, 12 May 2018
Mauritania 1-0 Guinea
Guinea Bissau 2-2 Nigeria
Burkina Faso 3-1 Libya
Gabon 3-0 Cote d’Ivoire
Rwanda 0-2 Zambia
Burundi 1-1 Sudan
Uganda 1-0 Cameroon
Mozambique 1-1 South Africa
Malawi 1-2 Angola
Botswana 1-1 Congo
Senegal 0-0 Egypt