Afcon Weeekend Preview: Rwanda Will Sweat Over Libya Hurdle

Neighbuors definitely has the hardest tie are among 26 countries in second round action this weekend when the qualifying journey to the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, they face giants Libya in Tripoli.

AMAVUBI Stars centre back Edwin Ouon
AMAVUBI Stars centre back Edwin Ouon

The Mediterranean Knights were ranked 12th in Africa this month by Fifa while the Amavubi of Rwanda are a distant 39th and 131 in the World.

If Rwanda overcame Libya and then Namibia or Congo-Brazzaville they will go into Group A with Sudan, defending champions Nigeria and South Africa.

Security issues in Libya means the Knights must host the Rwandan Wasps at the 65,000-seat Stade Olympique on the outskirts of Tunis.
However, Libyan footballers are used to such difficulties having qualified for the 2012 Nations Cup after playing home games in Mali and Egypt.
Libya will be boosted by winning the African Nation Championship (pictured) for home-based footballers in South Africa last February under Spanish coach Javier Clemente.

Amavubi Stars captain Haruna Niyonzima plans for Libya on Wednesday.
Amavubi Stars captain Haruna Niyonzima plans for Libya on Wednesday.

Goalkeeper Mohamed Abdaula, defender and captain Ali Salama and midfielder Mohamed El Gadi were included in the CHAN team of the tournament.

A setback for the Knights is the absence of players from Al Ahli Benghazi because the Nations Cup qualifiers clash with matchday 1 of the Champions League.

The Nations Cup second and third round dates fall outside the Fifa calendar so neither local nor foreign clubs have to release players.

Democratic Republic of Congo outfit TP Mazembe initially refused to release Tanzanians Mbwana Samata and Thomas Ulimwengu as they have a Champions League date in Sudan.

But the club has since gone back on that decision and the pair have been given the all clear to travel straight after the match from Sudan to Dar es Salaam in time to face Zimbabwe on Sunday.

The Warriors have been less fortunate and must do without striker Edward Sadomba, who is needed by Benghazi, and an injury to Simba Sithole further depletes their firepower.

Bostwana have also been affected and will be without Galabgwe Moyana, who will instead play for his South African club Polokwane in their relegation play-off.

Sierra Leone and Uganda are other nations among the top 20 African countries in the Fifa rankings playing preliminary ties.
A Leone Stars side guided by young Northern Ireland coach Johnny McKinstry visits Swaziland while the Cranes travel to Indian Ocean island Madagascar.

The rankings suggest comfortable overall victories for Sierra Leone and Uganda with both ranked more than 30 places above their opponents.

Nations Cup debutants South Sudan are away to Mozambique, whose captain Elias Pelembe has played down the absence of key players.
“I don’t think out team will be weakened, we already won games without some players – and everyone who is available is just as important,” he told BBC Sport.

“We know it will be an open game and we want to score enough goals to end the tie after the first leg.”

Kenya are expected to build a comfortable lead when they host the Comoros Islands , while Mauritania, who won home and away against Mauritius in the lone first round qualifier, have home advantage over 2012 quarter-finalists Equatorial Guinea.

Seychelles received a walkover into the third round when The Gambia were banned from all Caf competitions for two years over age cheating in the African youth championship.

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