When Dutchman, Ernie Brandts was hired by Military side, APR, the focus wasn’t only to continue their dominance of the Primus National League but to also bring success in the Caf Champions League.
Brandt’s side has an uphill task this weekend when they host Tunisian giant club Etoile Sportive du Sahel in the lucrative championship.
The Tunisian club is one of the most successful sides in the competition.
Etoile du Sahel is one of the richest North African clubs; the squad is scouted from almost all corners of the world.
Their remarkable success in this competition has been built on rich historical and sporting background.
They have reached quarterfinals, semis and finals of the competition on several occasions. This should be an eye opener to APR for the task ahead.
Etoile Sportive du Sahel is no different from other Maghreb sides, with their physical ability, pace and skill they can rip to pieces any side on any day.
Brandt will be facing his first major test ever since taking over the helm at the most successful Rwandan Side.
Al Ahly, Zamalek, T.P Mazembe, Esperance can be mentioned as the obstacles to the advancement of the Sousse side in previous CAF competitions, and particularly the African champions’ league.
The latter are the best clubs in Africa and have won the CAF champions’ league more than any other club on the continent.
Etoile is one of the two clubs in the world, together with Italy’s Juventus F.C., to have won all international club competitions organised by their respective continental confederation and the only one in Africa to have won all CAF club competitions.
Nearly two years ago, APR came close to eliminating TP Mazembe from the competition after a 1-0 in Kigali.
The military side lost the tie in Kinshasa with two red cards to end their Caf dreams.
T.P Mazembe went ahead to win the competition thus the right to represent Africa at the World Club Championships.
Sides from this part of the continent tend to be relegation sides against North African opponents and APR is no different. But they just need to work on some technical elements if they are to have any chance.
Street pundits expect Brandt to have transformed APR into continental power house.
APR is one of the most organised football clubs in the region. They also possess financial muscle that has enabled them to scout talent from within and outside the region. There is no reason not to succeed on the continent and I think Brandt has what it takes to unlock their potential.
The Army club recruited Brazilians this season to offer a broad range of selection and competition in the team. I am convinced that the Dutchman had a hand in this recruitment to boost the club’s depth.
APR has previously lost battles against North Africans on the aspect of physical strength and pace. But this times around, Coach Ernie Brandt’s has been offered weapons to overcome the challenge.
Unlike many west, south, east and central African teams, North Africans play fast flowing football with so many tackles and strength. This high magnitude potential has inspired their success.
I expect coach Ernie Brandts to have worked on this technical issue to give APR advantage ahead of the first leg at home.
Though we have hope that Brandt’s has what it takes to beat Etoile du Sahel, their elimination of the Kenyan champions Tusker FC was not convincing. The teams played to a goalless draw in Nairobi before the Rwandan side scrapped a 1-0 victory in Kigali.
In the return leg, the fighting spirit and physical battles involved were not at the highest peak. Hope the Dutchman fully understands the physical threat posed by the North Africans.