Rwanda and neighbours DR Congo played a goalless draw in the first leg of the first round qualifiers of the 2019 Africa U23 Cup of Nations in a tight game staged on Wednesday at Stade Umuganda in Rubavu District.
The game which was played in a mammoth crowd of both vibrant Rwandese and Congolese fans had both sets of players staging entertaining performances.
Rwanda had a few chances wasted by skipper Nshuti Dominique, Nshuti Innocent and Byiringiro Lague while their counterparts DR Congo had better chances of skilful strikers namely Nelson Felix Balongo Lissondja who plies his trade with Belgium’s Saint Truiden, Kayembe Edo who plays for Belgium’s RSC Anderlecht and Jackson Mukea who plays for Congolese champions TP Mazembe.
Rwanda’s goalie Fiacre Ntwali who plays for champions APR Fc and defender Mutsinzi Ange who plies his trade with Rayon Sports played a significant role as the duo clearly denied Kayembe two attempts in the second half to grant a life line for the hosts going into the return leg.
The Junior Wasps Coach Jimmy Mulisa hailed his youngsters for staging good performance against a solid and experienced Congolese side.
“Let me starting by thanking my players for not losing this game. They played their hearts out and were tactically disciplined. We played against a strong and experienced Congolese side,”
“We still have 90 minutes to play for in the away return leg. The pressure will be on the hosts because if we can get a goal in Kinshasa, it will be over for them,”
“I have seen where we need to make improvements and I believe with the remaining few days, I will be able to fix them to ensure that I field a strong side in the return leg,” added Mulisa.
His Congolese counterpart, Christian Nsengi Biembe blamed poor officiating which denied him two clear goal scoring opportunities.
“We were the better side and if the match officials had not ruled out two of our goals, we could be talking a different story now. Everything is still possible, we are confident on winning at home and our focus will be solely on scoring goals to snatch a ticket to the second round,” added Biembe.
The Junior Wasps will train on twice on Thursday and Friday before heading to Kinshasa on Saturday morning ahead of the return leg due on November 20.
The winner over two legs on aggregate will face Morocco during the next stage of the qualifiers in March 2019.
The third and final round of qualifiers will be held in June next year.
The tournament, slated for November 8-22 2019 in Egypt, will determine three teams that will represent Africa at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan.
This will be the 3rd edition of Africa U-23 Cup of Nations.
CAF U-23 Qualifiers
First Round, 1st Leg Results
Rwanda 0-0 DR Congo
Equatorial Guinea 1-1 Sao Tome & Principe
Mauritania 1-2 Guinea
Mauritius 0-5 Kenya
Burundi 2-0 Tanzania
Ethiopia 4-0 Somalia
Uganda1-0 South Sudan
Seychelles 1-1 Sudan