Amavubi Stars head coach Jonathan Brian McKinstry says he is happy to meet Libya in the 2018 Fifa World Cup preliminary African Zone Round 2 qualifying rounds.
Speaking exclusively to Rwanda Today after the draw that was conducted in St Petersburg, Russia, on July 25, the Irishman said: “Going into the draw, we knew that any of the seven teams we could be drawn against would prove to be difficult opponents.
“As such, we have been paired with Libya, a team that a number of the players know quite well from the 2014 Afcon encounter, and we expect it to be a difficult game.
“Historically, Libya have been a team that is hard to break down. If you look at their results over the past few years, you will see that for the most part they are low-scoring games and plenty of draws so we know that we will need to be on top form to break them down.
“However, if we manage to get a goal then we have the quality to go on an win the tie over two legs. Anything less than a top performance, however, and Libya are well equipped to take aantage so we need to be ready for the challenge.”
He added: “Being the seeded team in the tie, we will host the first gam in Rwanda, so it is important that we make a good start, and take a positive result into the second leg.
“As such, the Amavubi supporters can play a big part in our success. It is important that they come out in their thousands in November to support the team and to create a noisy atmosphere. If they do this, then I am confident we can give them the result they crave and help move us forward to the group stages of the World Cup.”
Despite Rwanda having beaten Libya in last year’s African Nations Cup (Chan) qualifier, McKinstry noted that this will be a different ball game altogether.
“Libya are a tough team,” he said. “Rwanda obviously had a good result against them last year, 3-0 over two legs. That was excellent.
“But Libya are a little bit aggrieved from last year and, potentially, will feel that they have a score to settle and that will give them extra motivation for the game.”
Rwanda are ranked 20th in Africa and are among the top 27 teams that got a bye to the second round.
In the second round, 13 winners on aggregate from the first round and the 27 other countries compete in two-leg ties in the second in November with winners progressing to a group stages where five nations will represent Africa at the 2018 finals in Russia.
Rwanda, who have appeared once, at the Chan final in 2004 in Tunis, have never played in the World Cup final.