Tricky ties for Rayon & APR
TKFL, Match Day 23
Marines vs. Rayon Sports (Umuganda)
SC Kiyovu vs. APR (Kigali Regional)
Amagaju vs. Police (Nyamagabe)
Musanze vs. Mukura (Musanze)
AS Muhanga vs. Esperance (Muhanga)
AS Kigali vs. Etincelles (Kigali Regional)
Espoir vs. Gicumbi (Rusizi)
TITLE CONTENDERS Rayon Sports and APR face tricky away affairs this weekend as the Turbo King Football League reaches a crucial stage.
Leaders Rayon Sports travel to Rubavu for a decisive game against Marines at Umuganda stadium while APR will be entertaining SC Kiyovu at Kigali Regional stadium on Saturday.
The two clubs which are separated a goal difference of four goals in favour of Rayon Sports have no room for mistakes as any slight mistake on either side will brush their title chances away.
Defending champions Rayon Sports plays Marines without head coach Luc Eymael who has headed back to Brussels, Belgium to take care of family issues and his number two Thierry Hitimana will be in charge of the blues.
Before departure, Eymael said, “I have trained players very well and hoping to get maximum points against Marines. Our main aim is going for maximum points before thinking about scoring as many goals as possible,”
Hitimana told Saturday Sports, “It’s a game that it’s important because obviously it’s against one of our toughest competitors.”
“For them, of course, it is a vital game because they don’t stand to lose anything if they lose. It will be a very good game and I think because both teams want to play football.”
“In theory every game is a decider because it’s three points and for us it’s more than that because we are in the final rounds of winning the title thus no room for mistakes. We need to register a clean record to stay in charge of the standings,”
Marines has presented much challenge in the final stages of the league especially to title contenders and for Rayon Sports to be assured of an away win in Rubavu, they have to be in their top form.
Rayon Sports will be welcoming back midfielder Hussein Sibomana who has been serving one-match suspension and defender Alipe Majyambere and striker Papy Kamanzi who have been nursing knee injuries.
Marines who stand ninth with 20 points have no injury concerns and have been in residential training in Musanze since the start of this week in preparation for the crunch tie.
Marines head coach Karim Nduhirabandi a.k.a Coka said, “We know we have a mountain to climb but we don’t fear them. We just respect them as a big club. In this kind of game we have nothing to lose. This game can make us grow. I want my players to give their all,”
“Our game plan will be different compared to other previous league matches. We have really enjoyed this season because I was able to give more experience to some young players, which is satisfying. They have gained exposure and experience and they will give Rayon a run for points,” added Nduhirabandi.
Marines are beaming with confidence having registered a win against AS Muhanga in their last league match. Out of 22 matches played, they have won five, drawn five and lost 12 matches.
Marines have a good record over the title contenders in the last stages of the season. In 2005, they shocked Rayon to a 2-1 loss to deny them the league title which was eventually won by APR, a feat which saw Coach Jean Baptista Kayiranga sacked.
In 2009, Marines was again at it when they held defunct Atraco to a goalless draw as APR defeated Mukura 2-0 to lift the title on +2 goal difference as both sides were tied on 52 points in the last fixture of the season.
In 2011/12 season, Marines beat Police 1-0 to deny the Cops chances of lifting their maiden title as APR easily swept their 13th league title.
Whether this feat remains to be repeated, it’s left to be witnessed in Rubavu later this afternoon where everyone will be heading to catch a glimpse of the most enjoyable match of the season.
Meanwhile, at Kigali Regional stadium, arch rivals APR will be presented with a great opportunity to leapfrog Rayon Sports when they meet SC Kiyovu should the blues stumble in Western Province.
Coach Vincent Mashami welcomes back striker Michel Ndahinduka who sat last week’s 1-0 win over Musanze due to suspension. APR has been in highly impressive form and will be eager to get the better of SC Kiyovu.
Despite the game weighing a lot on the title race, a youthful APR side believes they are not under any pressure on their end.
“Against SC Kiyovu, we want to continue our good run and we are not putting ourselves under any pressure because we fully understand that the match is not a title decider, as believed by many because there are three more matches to play.”
“We don’t want to put the title talk in our minds because we will be putting ourselves under unnecessary pressure, while there are far more important things we should be thinking about. Collecting maximum points from SC Kiyovu should be the only thing in our minds,” added Mashami.
His counterpart Gilbert Yaounde Kanyankole is wary of the threat APR poses ahead of their Saturday tie.
“We face APR on Saturday and I must admit this will be a very tough match. We’ve been performing poorly due to internal issues related to financial constraints but I believe players will put this issue aside and play to the best of their capability and hopefully beat APR,” added Kanyankole.
SC Kiyovu sits in fifth position with 37 points after twenty rounds of the Turbo King Football League.
Other matches due on Saturday will see third-placed Police travel to Nyamagabe to face relegation battling Amagaju side while Musanze will host struggling Mukura in Northern Province.
On Sunday, AS Muhanga will host relegation battling side Esperance in Southern Province as AS Kigali who beat Gicumbi 2-1 on Thursday hosts Etincelles at Kigali Regional stadium while Espoir without suspended head coach Emmanuel Ruremesha hosts Jean Baptista Kayiranga led side Gicumbi in Rusizi.