Rwanda secured their first victory of the 2018 African Nations Championship as they overcame Equatorial Guinea in the second Group C game played on Friday at Grand Stade de Tanger in Morocco.
Central defender Thierry Manzi was the hero of the game with his 66th minute brilliant header which secured the three points for the youthful Amavubi team.
Rwanda went into the game with an aim of securing a win to brighten their hopes of reaching the last eight in the on-going tournament.
After playing a goalless 65 minutes, vital midfielder Djihad Bizimana took a corner kick which Manzi jumped high to glance the ball into the net with a brilliant header.
Rwanda would have extended the lead in the 81st minute but were denied by a good save from goalie Cambio as he re-adjusted to stop a swerving long-range effort from Muhadjiri Hakizimana.
After Rwanda’s opening goal, Equatorial Guinea attacked and they began to push forward in search of the equalizer, but the Amavubi goalie Eric Ndayishimiye was in fine form and made numerous good saves to keep his side in front.
Manzi was named the man of the match following his sole goal which earned crucial points for Rwanda.
Speaking after the game, Manzi said, “I am delighted for having won the man of the match accolade. This is a collective effort and thanks to my teammates, I attribute this award to them and as well Rwandans fans. This is a big motivation going into last group game against Libya,”
Meanwhile, Amavubi head coach Antoine Hey said, “We are very happy for this victory. I thank my players for this victory, after the draw against Nigeria. We did not have a good match. We were too hesitant. I feel that there is an improvement in the team’s performance,”
“Equatorial Guinea created a lot of problems for us, especially on counter attacks. The result of the match Libya-Nigeria suits us. We will approach the match of Libya with the same determination,” he added.
The Equatorial Guinea coach Rodolfo Bodipo said, “We tried to create some problems for the opponent. We have a young team and we are doing well. The players played without pressure. It was really cruel for us today because we played well, but we did not win,”
“We made mistakes that we paid cash. We have gained a lot of experience. Our goal was to have experience. Even as if we are eliminated, we will play hard against Nigeria,” added Rodolfo.
The win took Rwanda on four points from two matches following the victory over Equatorial Guinea and a draw against Nigeria in their opening Group C match.
Rwanda is joint Group C leaders with Nigeria who beat Libya 1-0 earlier on Friday night.
The result for Libya sees them in third place in Group C while Equatorial Guinea is last with zero points.
The loss means Equatorial Guinea are out of contention to progress as the best they can hope for is three points to be level with Libya, who would advance on the head-to-head rule thanks to their 3-0 win in the opening round of matches over the Equatoguineans.
With three teams still in contention for a place in the quarter-finals, the last round of Group C seems promising.
In the last round of Group C matches on Tuesday, Rwanda will play Libya while Nigeria faces Equatorial Guinea.
Group A’s Morocco and Sudan, and Group B’s Zambia and Namibia have already booked their places in the quarter-finals earlier this week after winning all their first two matches in the tournament.
The tournament, which is for African footballers based in their own domestic leagues, features 16 teams in four groups.
The top two from each group advance to the quarterfinals.