KIGALI CITY became a ghost town on Saturday evening after hosts Rwanda were beaten by Botswana in a 14-goal nail-biting thriller to bow out of the 2013 Africa Junior Championship which will be held in Algeria.
Rwanda, 2011 Africa and World Cup U-17 finalists went down 6-5 on post match penalties despite grinding a 1-0 win over the young zebras in a do-or-die fierce second-leg encounter at Amahoro stadium.
Midfielder Patrick Sibomana scored Rwanda's goal on 90th minute and made the road to the final qualification round become a reality only later to turn the other way round.
An in-swinger from Sibomana's free-kick overwhelmed goalie Keeagile Kgosipula to land into the far corner of the net in a game which the junior wasps dominated but had no luck to find the net.
But after 90 minutes of play with both sides leveled on an aggregate score, the spine-chilling game was plunged into the spot-kicks, onto which both sets of players employed their vast experience and composure, Botswana emerged the ultimate winning side. With the nature of reputation Junior Wasps enjoy at home, they looked a more determined and more organized side in the entire game, always looking hungrier to penetrate the visitors' defense.
Clearly, there was more to say about the Junior Wasps in the game than Southern African nation. The hosts started off with tighter ball possession, with Kevin Ishimwe failing to find a good run by Blaise Itangishaka early into the game. Another early lob from Abdoul Rwatubyaye had looked dangerous but did little harm to keeper Kgosipula.
Of the two goal stoppers on either end of the pitch, Kgosipula was busier, courtesy of a long-ball strategy by the Junior Wasps midfielders directed towards the Botswana's backline. Thirty minutes into the game, Fistn Nkinzingabo dribbled past the Botswana's defense but his final low cross failed to connect to into the goal.
The Young Zebras continued to look ever sloppy - and cautious - in their play, allowing their opponents to rule the business on the pitch under an envelope of deafening sounds from the fans in the stadium.
Botswana launched a dangerous deep in the midfielder where Ditsele Lebocame struck two sharp shots but were saved by impressive Kassim Ndayisenga in the stands. The second half of the game ushered in a much more awakened Rwandan side, which started off by knocking heavily on the door of the Botswana defense.
Coach Richard Tardy's men showed plenty of determination from the very start of the second half way into the end of the 45 minutes. They clearly showed more energy, with heart-stopping attacks every once in a while but lack of penetrating goal chances denied the home side passage.
Despite the re-energized spirit into the home side, Sudanese referee Adam Ahmed Hassim blew an end to normal time of play straight into the dreaded penalty decider of the game.
The 1-0 meant spot kicks would decide the tie after the first leg ended in a similar scoreline in Molepolole. Legopelo Goitseome failed to convert his spot kick as Tsapoga Mohametsi, Andrew Makopo, Outlule Wamgtla, Kebue Thato, Ditsele Lebocame and Kgosipula Keeagile scored for Botswana.
Latif Bishira, Djihad Bizimana, Patrick Sibomana, Rachid Kalisa and Yves Rwigema scored for Rwanda while Kevin Ishimwe and Ibrahim Nshimiyimana missed. Botswana will now meet the winner between Sudan and Algeria in a two-legged last round qualifier to decide on who progresses to the final tournament which also serves as a qualifier for the Fifa U-17 World Cup.
2013 Africa U-17 Championship qualifier
Rwanda 1-0 Botswana
Botswana wins on a goal aggregate of 9-8.