Rwanda’s dream of making it to the 2023 AFCON finals in Cote D’Ivoire now hangs by a thread after the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Disciplinary Board slapped a forfeit against the country over fielding an ineligible player in midfielder Kevin Muhire during their 2023 AFCON Group L qualifier against Benin held in Kigali on March 29.

The pair played out a 1-1 draw in Kigali but Benin immediately lodged a complaint to CAF arguing that the Kuwait-based midfielder was not supposed to play the game in Kigali after receiving two yellow cards in two consecutive AFCON qualifying matches.

The continental governing body’s Disciplinary Board hence informed Rwanda FA that they lost their AFCON Qualifier against Benin by a 3-0 forfeit in accordance with article 105 of the disciplinary code after ruling that Benin’s appeal was valid.

The development means that Benin moves to the third place of Group L level with second-placed Mozambique on four points in four matches while Rwanda dropped to bottom of the table with two points, putting Amavubi’s race for a ticket to the 2023 AFCON finals in jeopardy.

Times Sport suggests three main actors responsible for the sanctions imposed on Rwanda.

Amavubi team manager

Muhire had been booked twice in the qualifiers before Ferrer mistakenly named him on the team sheet in a match against Benin in Kigali.

He was first booked during Rwanda’s 1-0 defeat to Senegal in On June 7, 2022 before picking another yellow card against Benin during the first leg match in Cotonou.

National team manager Jackson Rutayisire had not recorded the two bookings yet it is one of his prime responsibilities.

The job of the team manager is diversified. He is in charge of the team concerning team sheets, putting down players on cards and others. He must also inform the head coach, before every game, the players who are suspended from the next fixtures.

Had Rutayisire done his job well, Ferrer would not have named Muhire on his team sheet for the Benin game.

Referee Bondo and his assistants

Just few days after Benin filed the complaint against Rwanda for fielding an ineligible player, CAF on March 31 slapped a six-month ban on Botswana centre referee Joshua Bondo who handled the first leg match between Rwanda and Benin in Cotonou after he failed to report the yellow card that he showed Muhire during the encounter.

The referee’s his assistants Mogomotsi Morakile, Kitso Sibanda and Tshepo Gobagoba were also handed a three-month ban each.

Kevin Muhire should have asked about his status

Again, Muhire should also blame himself for letting Amavubi down in this case.

As a professional player who has been capped 24 times in the national team, the former Rayon skipper should have been careful about his past bookings to avoid involving the FA and the national team into problems that currently look way beyond their capacity to solve except accepting the charges.

With two yellow cards accumulated in two subsequent games, he must have asked for his status if he could play the next game or he has to serve a suspension. This could have drawn the attention of the Amavubi technical team to ask CAF for his eligibility status but he kept quiet and went on to play.

Rwanda had put up some great show picking two points from two away games before the encounter with Benin in Kigali. This campaign is perhaps Rwanda’s best start since the qualifiers for Tunisia 2004 and now due to negligence, Amavubi must pray for a miracle if they are to take one of the two qualifying spots.

With the current development, Amavubi are now bottom of the Group table and they must pray Senegal defeat Benin in Cotonou and, on their part, win their two remaining qualifiers against the Africa champions and Mozambique. Rwanda will host both fixtures should the issue of standard stadiums get solved in due course.

Source: The New Times

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