The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Friendly Matches Vital for Amavubi

AMAVUBI'S stand-in skipper Jean Claude Ndoli believes Rwanda requires more friendly matches especially for the local based players who need international exposure.

Ndoli, who has been a pivotal player for Amavubi team, spoke exclusively to Times Sport after Wednesday's friendly match against Namibia, which ended in a 2-all draw at Amahoro stadium.

National League top scorer Jimmy Mbaraga scored Amavubi's opening goal on the 57th minute after a neat exchange with striking partner Elias Uzamukunda to shoot past the Brave Warriors' goalie Christo Vries Virgil.

Ten minutes later, Uzamukunda met Mwemere Girinshuti's cross to stretch past two defenders and score the second goal with a fine header.

Despite trailing two goals, Namibia pressed hard and equalised through Botes and Horaeb Larry thanks to another defensive error that led to the visitors' second goal.

Lack of concentration battered Amavubi in the last minutes as Lazarus Kaimbi led an assault from the midfield, then connected to Botes, who dribbled past the advancing Ndoli and Emery Bayisenge to shoot into an empty net but Hamdan Bariyanga's "Hand of God" sent the ball to the woodwork before Ndoli grabbed the rebound.

The young APR defender, who came from the bench to replace Steven Godfroid appeared to use his hands to clear the ball but Ugandan referee Denis Batte missed the incidence much to the dismay of those watching.

Afterwards, Ndoli, who was captain of the day, said, "Friendly matches are very important. It is essential to play many matches because they will help the young national team members to gain exposure at the highest level before the next Africa and World Cup qualifiers."

"When we are exposed to international matches, it helps us to grow a good experienced team. The coach is building a new team based on young players, so it is better to expose them to big matches and learn on how to avoid making mistakes which have cost us dearly in the past," added the shot-stopper.

Improved ranking

The APR player said he's happy to see the team growing, but observed, "We need more of such friendly matches to help us develop into a good team."

Ndoli also believes that if Amavubi had a chance to consistently play such friendly matches in the last four years, Rwanda would have a different team and better place in Fifa rankings than the 122 place the country stands on now.

Amavubi's next mission is the Cecafa Tusker Challenge Cup, which kicks off next Saturday in Kampala.

Amavubi team opens their quest against Malawi on Nov. 26; take on Zanzibar on Nov. 29 before winding up their Group C campaign with a tie against Eritrea on December 1.

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