Amavubi head coach Antoine Hey has expressed disappointment after a stoppage time goal in the final Group C match against Libya at Grand Stade de Tanger on Tuesday night, saw Rwanda exit the ongoing Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) finals in Morocco.
Rwanda were just one minute of injury time away from qualifying to the quarter-final round for the second time, having reached the last eight two years ago in Kigali, but Elmutasem Abushnaf's strike in the 90+3 minute gave Libya a 1-0 win.
The victory pushed Amavubi to third place, while Libya advanced to the knockout round in second place, behind group leaders Nigeria, who beat Equatorial Guinea 3-1 in the other match.
"We need to be realistic. We were the last team to qualify for the tournament. We had two big teams (Nigeria and Libya) on their knees. It would have been great if we had proceeded," Hey said in the aftermath of his team's heartbreaking injury-time defeat.
The German, whose team played in their half for majority of the game and didn't have a single shot on the Libyan goals, noted that, "We are obviously very disappointed. My players tried everything they could. I have no complaints. It was unfortunate. It's a learning process for our team."
Libya's goal courtesy of substitute Abushnaf was the first that the Amavubi goalkeeper and captain. Eric 'Bakame' Ndayishimiye conceded in the tournament but it turned out to be 'fatal.'
Rwanda went into the game needing a draw to book their passage to last eight. Amavubi, who did not have single shot on target, dominated possession in the opening 10 minutes, but they could not create any clear-cut chances or even threaten Libya goalkeeper Muhammad Nashnoush.
As the game progressed, Libya took control of the game, but they also failed to convert the numerous chances in-front of the Rwanda goal.
The second-half was dominated by Libya and Rwanda did most of the defending and looking for a draw until the 93rd minute when striker Abushnaf, who came on in the 78thminute, secured the victory for the Mediterranean Knights.
Libya will travel south to Agadir and prepare for a last-eight showdown on Sunday against the Group D winners, currently Congo Brazzaville, while Nigeria will return to Tanger to face Group D runners-up, a position Angola occupy ahead of a Wednesday clash with Congo.
Although the biennial Africa Nations Championship is restricted to home-based footballers, matches carry full international status and count toward the monthly FIFA rankings.