Mashami: Rwanda deserved to reach the quarterfinals

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Rwanda Amavubi coach Vincent Mashami said his side’s qualification for the knockout stages at the ongoing Total African Nations Championship (CHAN), Cameroon 2020 is well deserved.

“Despite the challenges we have had in the league at home due to COVID-19, we have worked very hard with the players and we deserve to be in the knockout stage,” Mashami said.

Rwanda sealed their quarterfinals spot on Tuesday after a hard fought 3-2 victory against Togo. They finished second in Group C with five points, two points behind defending champions Morocco.

Mashami, who was assistant coach when Rwanda reached the quarterfinals in 2016, said that they are going to prepare for any team that comes their way in the knockout.

“Two draws and a win in the group stage have motivated us to keep working hard with the belief that we still have a lot to offer,” he added.

However, the Amavubi coach hoped that key defender Thierry Manzi who limped off the game against Togo recovers in time because he brings a good dimension to the team. “Thierry is a mature and experienced player who brings a lot to the team and we shall work hard to have him fit for the quarterfinal stage,” said Mashami.

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The coach made it clear that they are determined to go a step further this time since the team reached the quarters at home in 2016.

“We need to continue working hard on all aspects of the game so as to put up a good show in the quarters and progress to the semis. Like our game against Togo, we shall again treat the quarterfinal match like a do-or-die,” he noted.

In their first CHAN appearance in 2011, Rwanda failed to make it out of the group, but improved at home in 2016 to reach the quarters. At the last edition in Morocco 2018, Amavubi again failed to qualify for the knockout stage.