The APR striker is ready to lead by example when they open their Group C campaign with a clash against the Cranes
Rwanda striker Ernest Sugira is confident they have what it takes to beat their East African rivals Uganda in their opening match of the African Nations Championship on Monday.
The two neighbours will come face to face at Stade de la Reunification in Douala after Morocco takes on Togo in the group's opener.
However, Sugira is confident they have matured enough and ready to handle their opponents, who have always enjoyed winning matches against them.
“We are going to face a tough team which plays with physicality, and is so aggressive in attack,” Sugira told New Times. “We need to avoid conceding a goal so early and instead play our own game as planned. I am confident we can get three points from them.
“We are both in a tough group but we are not underdogs. We have a 75 percent chance to progress but only if we win our first game against Uganda. We took time to watch their videos and we know what a tough opponent they are but we aren’t easy to beat either.”
Despite Rwanda being pooled in Group C alongside defending champions Morocco, Uganda, and debutants Togo, Sugira has maintained they will progress from the group stage and also called upon Rwandan fans to rally behind the team.
“We have been reading what is written or said about the national team, but this is the time Rwandans should start believing in us. It’s their national team and their support will do a lot of good for us,” continued the APR striker but who is currently on loan at rivals Rayon Sports.
“We have to share the good and the bad but it’s time for us to change and do better on the pitch and improve and bring back a smile on their faces, we are doing our best to adjust our performances and this is a good opportunity to do it.”
During the 2016 Chan, Sugira was the darling of Rwanda fans as he scored three goals in the group stage to help the team reach the quarter-finals of the competition.
Sugira is now hoping to replicate the same form by stating: “I had good moments at Chan 2016, but a lot has changed between now and then. This is an opportunity for me to prove what I am capable of on the pitch but what is important is to help my team get good results.”
The last encounter between the two nations was in 2017 in Kigali during the Chan qualification campaign, where Rwanda won 2-0, but they were eliminated because the Cranes had won 3-0 in Kampala.