NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 6- Despite suffering back to back losses at the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup, Rwanda head coach Antoine Hey says he is not entirely disappointed, pointing out his biggest target travelling in for the tournament is to prepare for next year’s African Nations Championship (CHAN).
The former Harambee Stars boss changed his entire team for their second game against Zanzibar on Tuesday afternoon, seeing them suffer a shocking 3-1 loss in Machakos, less than two days after losing 2-0 to Harambee Stars in Kakamega.
“It is never a good thing for anyone to lose but to me what is more important is to give these young players a chance to develop. This is the best opportunity for them to learn because in the event we have injuries or suspensions for big matches, it is never the right opportunity to give them (young players) game time,” Hey said.
Rwanda qualified for next year’s CHAN in Morocco after beating Ethiopia in a two-legged play off.
CAF handed the favor back to East Africa after Egypt turned down the offer handed to them after initial hosts Kenya were stripped of the hosting rights.
The Amavubi hosted the last CHAN in 2016 where they lost out 2-1 after extra time to eventual champions DR Congo in the Quarter Finals.
Hey has also insinuated he will field a different team when they play Libya in their third Group A match on Thursday. It will be more of a dress rehearsal for the two sides as they will also clash in the same CHAN group.
“It was a good test to our players because some of them are playing their first match on the international level. It is a learning process to get players ready for CHAN and see what options we have. The loss gave us good insight on what players we can count on and which ones need more time,” Hey said.
He has admitted that the team is not ready for CHAN which starts mid-next month but acknowledges with the tournament and a few weeks of training, he will be able to get the team into the shape he requires.
“We are testing different line ups, different positions and tactics and it is part of our long term to build the young players,” he noted.
Meanwhile, his Zanzibar counterpart Hemed Suleiman was not carried away with the huge win, but says his players will build on it especially ahead of tomorrow afternoon’s ‘local derby’ against Tanzania Mainland.
“Rwanda is a good team and beating them is a huge plus for us. This game is behind us but it gives us confidence to take a game at a time. We want to do well and our primary aim is to get to the semi-finals,” Suleiman said.