By Mark Namanya
Group 13 qualifiers
Ghana 0 Uganda 1 7/9/02 Ghana 4 Rwanda 2 13/10/02
Rwanda 0 Uganda 0 29/3/03
Uganda 0 Rwanda 1 7/06/03
Rwanda 1 Ghana 0 6/07/03
RWANDAâ€™s shock Africa Nations Cup qualification encapsulated hard-work and determination from the tiny central African state.
There can be no doubt opponents Uganda and group favourites Ghana were a shambles but Rwandan football has been ascending since success in the 1999 CECACA nations tournament.
Uganda is struggling to envisage that Rwanda is the country they thrashed 5-0 five years ago at Nakivubo stadium.
A 4-2 defeat away to Ghana left them languishing at the bottom of Group 13 while Uganda and Ghana sat on three points.
Rwandaâ€™s fortunes took a new turn with a scarcely deserved point, their first of the qualifiers, against a superior Uganda side in a highly controversial match early this year.
A sound Federation of Rwanda Football Association (FERWAFA), aided by favourable government sports policy, has produced professionals in the Belgian league, notably St. Truiden pair Claude Kalisa and Desire Mbonabucya.
The two were inspirational in the troubled 1-0 win over Uganda Cranes in Kampala that handed them the initiative.
â€œWe have improved slowly over the years with hard work. We have had good preparation, discipline and the team have played well together. Thatâ€™s how we made it,â€ Dujkovic said in Kigali.
Dujkovic is a former Venezuela national coach and a member of Red Star Belgradeâ€™s backroom staff when they won the European Cup in 1991.
Duksovic believes Rwandaâ€™s appearance in Tunisia will be one of a learning experience.
â€œFor us, Tunisia is a chance to learn from better teams. We have no chance of winning the Cup but we shall be there to soak up all the experience.â€
President Paul Kagameâ€™s love for the game cannot be ignored. The Rwanda leader was present at both qualifying matches in Amahoro stadium, and led celebrations of his countryâ€™s first ever appearance at the Nations Cup.