The national football team, Amavubi, start the quest for Rwanda’s first African Nations Championships (CHAN) silverware on Monday, January 18, when they take on regional arch-rivals Uganda at Stade de la Reunification in Douala.

The three-week showpiece, which was initially due in April 2020, runs from January 16 through February 7 in Cameroon.

Vincent Mashami’s side arrived in the Central African country on Wednesday and have since been holding daily training sessions at Stade Bonamoussadi.

Despite a poor showing in two warm-up matches against Republic of the Congo last week where they drew one and lost one, Amavubi players led by skipper Jacques Tuyisenge are optimistic about turning their fortunes around in Cameroon.

Rwanda makes Group C alongside holders Morocco, Uganda and Togo.

Weekend Sport looks at five key players to Rwanda’s charge at the 6th CHAN finals tournament.

Olivier Kwizera

The Rayon Sports shot-stopper, who is making his second appearance in CHAN finals, has regained the trust of head coach Mashami since the tactician brought him back between the sticks after costly howlers that cost Amavubi’s chances of qualifying for AFCON 2019.

His performance against Cape Verde in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers last November did not only impress Mashami, but his maturity and timely interventions were also widely seen as the biggest highlight in both matches – which ended goalless.

With 10 caps to his name so far, the 25-year-old will be a reliable asset to count on if Amavubi are to better their 2016 CHAN success when they reached the quarter-finals where they were seen off by eventual winners DR Congo.

Jacques Tuyisenge

The Rwanda Premier League’s highest-paid player has been struggling with goals this season, both at club and with the national team, but, as the captain, all eyes will be on him to rediscover his scoring form and cause all sorts of troubles to opponents in Cameroon.

Tuyisenge’s experience at African competitions will be crucial for Amavubi. He is a proven leader in crucial games and understands what it means to be the team captain.

If Rwanda is to advance beyond the group stage, or clinch the title as he promised, Tuyisenge will need to be at his best.

Ernest Sugira