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Rwanda, Libya stare elimination after draw

Libya captain Albadri Faisal clears the ball under pressure from Rwanda’s Yannick Mukunzi during a CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup in Machakos on December 7, 2017. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

MACHAKOS, Kenya, Dec 7- Rwanda and invitational side Libya stare at the prospect of elimination from the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup after the two sides played to a 0-0 draw on Thursday evening in their third Group ‘A’ matches in Machakos.

The result leaves Rwanda bottom of the pile with a single point while the Libyans are third after picking up three consecutive 0-0 draws in the tournament. The two teams were playing in a dress rehearsal as they meet again next month in the group stages of the African Nations Championship (CHAN).

Libya next faces group leaders Zanzibar next Monday while Rwanda will take on Tanzania mainland on Saturday.

Clearly learning lessons from their 3-1 hiding at the hands of Zanzibar on Tuesday, Rwanda boss Antoine Hey fielded a strong team, the same that played in the opening tie against Kenya’s Harambee Stars last Sunday.

The two sides coming into their third games of the tournament were winless and with a semi-final slot at stake, three points was a must for either of them if they were to keep their last four hopes alive.

In a hugely balanced opening half, Libya had the first chance of the tie in the sixth minute when a lobbed ball was planted behind the Rwandese defense, falling kindly on Taktak Muftah. However, the winger’s shot unmarked from the left was saved by Rwanda keeper Eric Ndayishimiye.

Rwanda’s first chance of the game came in the 14th minute, Eric Rutanga finding space at the edge of the box but his curling effort went over.

Mico Justin had three brilliant back to back chances in the 25th minute when a freekick started shot from the right was swung his way by Djihad Bizimana, but his effort was saved by the keeper.

The rebound fell kindly on his path again and he blasted it against the upright. He was lucky enough to have a third bite of the cherry but this time his shot flew over the bar.

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Libya’s Taktak Muftah attempts to block a cross from Eric Iradukunda

Swifly on the opposite end, Muftah’s first time volley after Faustin Usengimana’s defensive header fell on his path went wide.

The Libyans were the more attacking side and whenever they had the ball, their first instinct was to go ahead. They won a corner on the half hour mark and in an all familiar move, Muftah swung it in at the near post but Saeid Taher’s glancing effort went over.

Three minutes on the turn, Rwanda’s Mico had another chance after a one-two change of passes with Yannick Mukunzi but he blasted the ball over inside the box.

At the stroke of halftime, Libya had the best chance to break the deadlock when Mohamed Amhimid swung a cross from the right picking out Taher, but the forward, completely with no pressure on his shoulders took a low shot that was saved by the keeper one on one.

The chances were few and far in between in the second half, the two sides visibly jaded from a tough run of matches.

Libya had a chance in the 48th minute when Tubal Mohammed broke away on the right but his shot hit the side netting under pressure from Soter Kayumba.

Rwanda had three good chances, first Mico’s attempt with an acrobatic shot from a Djabel Manishimwe cross going straight to the keeper before Bizimana’s header from a Mico cross went wide.

Twelve minutes from time, Bizimana had a glorious opportunity when Manishimwe’s cross from the right fell well on his path but with the goalmouth at his mercy placed the ball wide.

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