Rwanda has kept alive hopes of qualifying for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) with a narrow 1-0 home victory over Mozambique on Wednesday.
Second-half substitute Lague Byiringiro scored the lone goal of the game in the 67th minute to end Rwanda’s long goal drought and earn them their first win in the qualifying campaign.
Mashami’s side remains in contention to finish second in Group F behind group leaders Cameroon who have already qualified as hosts. They are now a point ahead of Cape Verde and Mozambique.
Mashami was forced to call upon second-choice goalkeeper, Emery Mvuyekure with Olivier Kwizera suspended for the game following his red card against Guinea at the Africa Nations Championships.
The Tusker FC’s goalkeeper who was playing his first game in the national team in almost six years had to bail out his backline three times in the dying moments as Mozambique piled the pressure looking for an equalizer.
Rwanda came close to opening the scoring in the 16th minute when Mutsinzi Ange’s long-range effort was blocked by the Mozambican goalkeeper.
In the 24 minute, Sugira Ernest missed another glorious chance as the hosts failed to convert possession into goals.
After an uneventful first half, Lague Byiringiro came in for Thierry Manzi at half-time in a double change along with Olivier Niyonzima for Steve Rubanguka.
It was Lague who scored the only goal in the 67th minute with a powerful strike after some excellent work from Meddie Kagere and Emmanuel Imanishimwe.
Mozambique piles on the pressure as they searched for an equalizing goal and could have equalized but Rwanda goalkeeper Emery Mvuyekure, produced three fines saves to reignite their ambitions to qualify for the Afcon in Cameroon.
This marks Rwanda’s first win in the qualifying campaign after first-leg defeats to Cameroon and Mozambique and draws against Cape Verde.
A win for Cape Verde in Group F’s will see them leapfrog Rwanda in second place with one game remaining.
Amavubi will next travel to Douala to face Cameroon in their final game on March 30 the same day Mozambique welcomes Cape Verde.
Rwanda needs to beat Cameroon while hoping the other results go their way.