TRICKY:Wastefulness could prove costly in Tunis
Selected first round results
APR 0-0 Etoile du Sahel URA 0-2 Djoliba
Platinum FC 2-2 El Merreikh
P.Dynamos 1-1 TP Mazembe
ASO Chlef 0-0 Vita Club
Diplomates FC 0-3 El Hilal
Rwanda’s league champions APR FC must take full responsibility for helping Etoile du Sahel return to Tunis with a clean sheet from the first leg of the first round of the Orange Champions League match played on Saturday at Amahoro national stadium.
Lack of sharpness and composure infront of goal left APR licking their wounds after failure to convert even a single chance in a game they dominated for large parts and created several clear cut scoring openings.
It means that the military side missed the opportunity to take a deserved advantage into the return leg in two weeks time.
Dutch coach Ernie Brandts is a cautious man after his charges extended their goal scoring drought on the local scene to the continental stage.
APR find themselves in an unfamiliar third position on the Primus National Football League table standings, with 31 point in 16 matches played this season.
The champions have won nine matches, drawn four and lost three, but the evident lack of enough goals in the team despite possessing some of the best strikers in the land, like Olivier Karekezi, Faty Papy, Kabange Twite among others, has the left the 12-time league champions trailing Police and Mukura in the race for the 2011/12 league title.
The lack of goals has left head coach Brandts very worried as his team seeks to hang on their league and cup double, as well as fighting to progress to the second round of the Orange Champions League after years of underachieving.
“The problem of not scoring enough goals has been a major hindrance, not only for APR, but also for the national team (Amavubi Stars). Yet we cannot give up on the players, we will keep helping them and probably one day, they will get it right,” says the Dutchman.
On Saturday, Brandts said, “We should have won this game. We had the upper hand for most of the game but somehow we did not make dominance count. I’m happy with the general performance of every player, each of them put in real shift.”
“We’ve got a goalless draw here, which is not a bad result, and in Tunis we’ll go for a win. We’re still in this competition; anything can happen in the return leg. We’ll have to work very hard to make the group stage,” noted Brandts.
The former Holland international believes that if the officiating is “fair or better than when we played there (Tunisia), last year, against Club Africain, then we can have a chance to progress.”
Last year, after a home 2-2 draw against Club Africain in Kigali, the Tunisians beat APR 4-0 to qualify 6-2 on aggregates.
Brandts states that officiating on that occasion was “biased” and within the first 15 minutes, three APR players had been booked, something that put them on the edge as a mis-timed tackle of challenge could lead to a second booking and a sending off.
His opposite number of Etoile de Sahel, the German-born Bernd Krauss, despite not conceding an away goal, was left a disappointed man, especially with his team’s performance.
He said, “This is the worst we have played this season. We couldn’t get any closer to APR’s goal, and though we didn’t concede, I must say, we were lucky to end this game with a goalless draw.”
“I think both teams (ESS and APR) have an equal chance in the return leg. Nonetheless, we’ll be home and we will be more attacking than we’ve been here (Kigali) but, at the same time, stop APR from scoring because any scoring draw, favours APR,” added Krauss.
The goalless result leaves the tie finely balanced heading into the return leg which will be held in Tunis on April 7.
The military side will need a scoring draw to progress to the second round. Though APR has a poor record against North African teams, they will be boasted by the return of defensive maestro Mbuyu Twite, who was suspended for Saturday’s game, and Jean Claude Iranzi, who was nursing an ankle injury.