CHAN: Winning start for Rwanda as Morocco and Gabon draw

By alex wafula
Jan 16, 2022
  • Essis Baudelaire of Ivory Coast passes the ball under pressure from Rwanda's Innocent Habyarimana. Rwanda won 1-0.

Rwanda, the hosts of this year’s African Nations Championship (CHAN) began their campaign on a high, with a 1-0 win over Ivory Coast at the Amahoro Stadium in Kigali on Saturday afternoon.

Emery Bayisenge an Armie Patriotique Rwandaise (APR) defender scored the lone goal from a beautiful free kick in the first half. he could have a second but his his penalty in the second half was saved by the Ivorian keeper Badra Ali Sangare.

Rwanda were urged on by their 12th man, President Paul Kagame, a sports lover and supporter. Amahoro Stadioum the venue of the opener was filled to the rafters and the fans provided an atmosphere which the players thrived on.

“We have to give it up to our fans because in the last 10 minutes of the match when Ivory Coast was really coming at us and the players were beginning to get tired, they raised their voice levels and this pushed us a lot,” Rwanda coach Jonathan McKinstry said after the match.

Jean Claude Iranzi was at the heart of Rwanda’s attack in the opening 20 minutes of the match and it was through his industry that Amavubi stung the opener.

Iranzi began his destructive forays in the 12th minute, interchanging passes with Jacques Tuyisenge before crossing for Danny Usengimana who headed over. Iranzi turned provider again when he turned swiftly off his marker in the 14th minute before laying a pass to Innocent Habyarimana whose shot from the edge of the box went wide.

A minute later, he threatened at the edge of the box and the Ivorian defenders who had found him unstoppable finally came with an unorthodox solution by hacking him to the ground. From the resultant free kick, Bayisenge curled into the bottom left of Ali Badra’s goal to send the fully packed Amahoro into frenzy.

Loud cheers for Rwanda

The noise levels were deafening and from then on, every touch of the ball by a player in yellow was cheered loudly.

Ivory Coast came close twice four minutes later, but they could not get the right combination inside the box to bury the ball inside the net. Djedje Guiza broke into the box before pulling back a cross from the byline, but Kofi Mahinde Boua could not get the right touch to it.

Mahan Marc Goua also brought in a similar cross a minute later, but the ball rolled on the face of goal with no one available. Ivory Coast had a good chance again with a minute to the break with Kofi Mahinde hitting the side netting after being well picked out by Essis Baudelarie.

Rwanda had a superb opportunity to double their lead in the 58th minute after Tuyisenge was brought down inside the box in a tussle for a corner.

Second assistant referee Mothibidi Stevens had kept his flag raised after citing the incident and the centre referee referee Hamada El Mousa who had allowed play to go on whistled when he saw the flag. Bayisenge’s effort to get a double however was thwarted, Badra Ali leaping to his right and parrying the ball away for a corner which he claimed with ease.

A late kick off between Morocco and Gabon ended goalless. The two sides showed much respect to each other, but Morocco had more attempts at goal in the opening half.

The intensity of the game rose in the second period, with both keepers kept on their toes. Abdelilah Hafidi had a decent attempt in the 49th minute trying to pick the Gabon keeper off his line with a curling effort, but the custodian stretched to save.

Georges Amborouet on the opposite end forced Morocco keeper Mohammed Amine Boukadi to his first save of the game with a decent shot from a freekick, the custodian managing to parry it off for a corner.

Rwanda now head into match day two of Group A heads up with three points and a win against Gabon will all but book them a slot in the last eight.