Coach McKinstry: "Rwanda's qualification group offers potential, but focus and dedication will be needed to progress".
Rwanda have been drawn in Group H, alongside likely tournament favorites Ghana, as well as Mozambique & Mauritius. The winners in each of the 13 groups will qualify automatically to the final tournament in Gabon in 2017, while the two runners-up with the best records will also join the hosts to make 16 teams.
Ghana are the team all others will have been wanting to avoid - having just finished runners up in AFCON 2015 with a very young team who will only continue to develop - making them likely favorites for AFCON 2017 in Gabon.
Speaking after the draw, Coach McKinstry said:
"The group provides both challenges and potential. Ghana's young team will only continue to develop and so we will need to work hard to do the same."
Mozambique and Mauritius will likely be looking at the group and hoping they do enough to stake a claim for one of the two best runner-up positions that will also qualify for the finals
"The Amavubi will need to work hard over the coming months to ensure we progress. Mozambique and Mauritius will be out to win every game and so will be difficult opponents to overcome, but with hard work we can seek to qualify by taking one of the top two spots in the Group."
Rwanda will face Mozambique away in June 2015, followed by Ghana at home in Kigali in September 2015.
The Amavubi fans will be hoping for a repeat of their 2003 home AFCON encounter against Ghana, where they defeated Ghana 1-0 in Kigali. The Ghana side are however a very different side now compared to 2003, having just made it to the finals of AFCON 2015 with a young and upcoming side.
Coach McKinstry is however well placed to take on the Black Stars. During his time at Ghana's Right to Dream Academy he coached a number of players who will likely feature for Ghana in 2017 - including current internationals Abdul Waris and David Accam.
RWANDA FIXTURES - AFCON 2017 Qualification
- 12-14 Jun 2015 - Mozambique v Rwanda
- 4-6 Sep 2015 - Rwanda v Ghana
- 23-26 Mar 2016 - Mauritius v Rwanda
- 26-29 Mar 2016 - Rwanda v Mauritius
- 3-5 Jun 2016 - Rwanda v Mozambique
- 2-4 Sep 2016 - Ghana v Rwanda
Full draw for 2017 AFCON qualifiers:
Group A: Tunisia, Togo, Liberia, Djibouti
Group B: Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Central African Republic, Madagascar
Group C: Mali, Equatorial Guinea, Benin, South Sudan
Group D: Burkina Faso, Uganda, Botswana, Comoros
Group E: Zambia, Congo, Kenya, Guinea Bissau
Group F: Cape Verde, Morocco, Libya, Sao Tome
Group G: Nigeria, Egypt, Tanzania, Chad
Group H: Ghana, Mozambique, Rwanda, Mauritius
Group I: Ivory Coast, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Gabon
Group J: Algeria, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Seychelles
Group K: Senegal, Niger, Namibia, Burundi
Group L: Guinea, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Swaziland
Group M: Cameroon, South Africa, The Gambia, Mauritania
About Coach McKinstry
Johnny McKinstry is a UEFA Pro Licensed Football Coach. He was International Manager and Head Coach of the Rwanda National Football Team from March 2015 - August 2016. Within just 17 months he led Rwanda to a number of highs - including their first ever appearance in the knockout stages of a major international tournament (Quarter-finals of CHAN, Jan 2016) and finished runner-up in CECAFA (Dec 2105), being named 'Coach of the Tournament' for his efforts.
He was Head Coach of the Sierra Leone National Men's Football team from April 2013 - September 2014. Within just over a year, he had led Sierra Leone to their highest ever FIFA World and African rankings - 7th in Africa and 50th in the World (August 2014). From Jan 2010 - Dec 2014 he set up and developed the Craig Bellamy Elite Soccer Academy in Sierra Leone - placing elite young players in Europe, Asia and North America. He is a European (UEFA), American (NSCAA) and university qualified football coach.
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