AMAVUBI Stars skipper Haruna Niyonzima says the team is ready to launch a successful assault to win a second Cecafa Challenge Cup title when the regional tournament kicks off today in Kampala, Uganda.
Rwanda will be seeking to win the regional title for only the second time since lifting the first 13 years ago when the tournament was held in Kigali.
After finishing as runners-up to this year's hosts Uganda in Dar es Salaam, Amavubi players are still hurting for missing out on the title in a game they controlled for larger part of the play.
With the team missing key players Meddie Kagere, Olivier Kagere and Mbuyu Twite, who played a crucial role in last year's tournament, Haruna is confident he can lead the young side to win the title on Ugandan soil.
Haruna said yesterday, "We are mentally and physically ready for the tournament. We have had enough preparations. We have a young squad but the players know that age counts for nothing at this stage. We are all ready for the competition."
"We are confident and believe with hard work, commitment and dedication, we can defy odds and return home with the trophy, we really need to (win) it, it has been a long time since we last won it," stated the midfielder, who plies his trade with Tanzania's Young Africans.
The regional tournament starts this afternoon with Ethiopia squaring off against debutants South Sudan at 2 pm local time before the hosts Uganda take on rivals Kenya at 5 pm, both matches at Namboole stadium.
Amavubi opens their campaign against Malawi on Monday at the same venue and return to action three days later against Zanzibar.
Rwanda last won the title in 1999 when the tournament was first held in Kigali. Rwanda B beat Kenya 3-1 in the final at Amahoro stadium.
Last year, Rwanda lost to Uganda in a post-match penalty shoot-out after Cranes came twice from behind to tie 2-2 after 90 minutes.
The winners take home $30,000 (Rwf18.9m), runners-up $20,000 (Rwf12.5m) and the third team will walk away with $10,000 (Rwf6.3m).
2012 Cecafa Challenge Cup
Ethiopia vs S/Sudan 2pm
Uganda vs Kenya 5pm
Burundi vs Somalia
Tanzania vs Sudan