A scrappy Rwanda side drew Mozambique 1-1 in Johannesburg, South Africa to open up play in Group L of 2023 Africa Cup of Nations on Thursday. A second half opener from Rwanda’s Blaise Nishimwe was quickly cancelled out by a leveler from Stanley Ratifo but Mozambique, forced to host their opening home fixture in South Africa due to lacking a suitable stadium, could not push through for the win. Mozambique will travel to Benin for their next match and Rwanda will host group favorites Senegal.
Mozambique looked more positive in the first half and the most likely team to score but the match took time to get going. Shooting opportunities for captain Domingues and Stanley Ratifo went off target before young playmaker Geny Catamo was denied by Rwanda goalkeeper Olivier Kwizera in the opening half hour. Rwanda’s lone look came in the 28th minute when left back Emmanuel Imanishimwe’s cross found Meddie Kagere but a challenge from Mozambique left back Reinildo Mandava kept Kagere from putting a strong shot on target.
The organized and defensive posture of Rwanda continued into the second half and the Mambas could not find a breakthrough. In the 65th minute the Amavubi found a surprise opener when Rafael York’s lofted pass was headed out by Manuel Kambala only as far as Nishimwe, who caught Mozambique keeper Ernest Siluane off his line and cleverly lobbed his shot over and into the net.
Any ideas of a shock three points on the road for Rwanda were quickly extinguished only ninety seconds later. Mozambique substitute Gildo made an instant impact when he received his first touch on the left wing and sent in a cross to find Ratifo who got behind the defense and nodded past Kwizera. Both teams had a couple of decent looks in the final twenty minutes but Mozambique were forced to settle for a disappointing draw.
Highlights of the match are below.