12 December 2017

Libya/Kenya: CHAN-Bound Rwanda, Libya Pick Positives Despite Early Exit

For Rwanda and Libya, their aim was not to contest for the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup but rather use the competition to prepare for the 2018 Africa Nations Championship (Chan) slated for Morocco next month.

Coincidentally, both nations have been pooled in Group C alongside Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea in the Chan draw. They recently battled to a goalless draw in a Group A clash at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on Saturday in the Cecafa tourney.

Libya finished third and Rwanda were fourth on six and four points respectively. Kenya and Zanzibar qualified for the semi-finals from the group while Tanzania finished last.

"If I wanted the cup, I would have summoned our foreign-based players like Tuyisenge (Jacques) and others. We've achieved our objective of giving the young boys a platform to gauge their readiness for Chan," said Rwanda coach Antoine Hey, whose side managed a single win, two losses and a draw.

"Plans are afoot for the team to camp in Turkey and Tunisia before heading to Morocco."

Libya tactician Omar Elmaryami led the guests in this year's edition to just a single win but will be happy with a solid backline that didn't concede a single goal in four matches.

"We included six new players in our squad to give them an opportunity to learn something new as we prepare for Chan. This tourney has helped us realise our weaknesses which we will work on in our Jordan and Tunisia camps. We also left our key players who will join us in a week's time," said Elmaryami.

"Rwanda is a good side, it will be entertaining to face them again in Morocco."

Uganda Cranes are the other team of the nine participants at Cecafa heading for the biennial competition in Morocco.

A total of 30 goals were scored in 16 games in the preliminaries with Uganda's Derrick Nsibambi topping the scoring charts with three goals.

He is closely followed by Kassim Suleiman (Zanzibar), Ethiopia's Sanni Abdella and Tilahun Abel.

Only three red cards have been dished out to Rwanda's Soter Kayumba and Uganda Cranes duo Isaac Muleme and Timothy Awany.

South Sudan, Rwanda and Ethiopia shipped in more goals, eight, six and five respectively while Group B produced the most number of goals, 16.

Zanzibar stands out as the surprise team having beaten the odds to qualify for the semi-finals for the first time since 2012 when they finished third after edging out Kilimanjaro Stars on penalties in Kampala.

"Unlike in the previous competitions, this time round players started preparations two weeks earlier before foreign-based players joined them before departing for Kenya," Zanzibar's star player Yahya Mudathir, who turns out for Singida United in the Tanzania Premier League, told Nation Sport.

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