Forget it’s Rayon Sports and just imagine how it feels like for any club to win the league title after nine years of struggle, near misses and playing second fiddle to your biggest rivals.
Rayon’s seventh Rwandan league title came in a season when very few if any predicted it, instead everyone thought it was going to be like any other torrid campaign for the country’s most supported football club.
It has taken too long for the club of that size and status to bring a smile back on their fans’ faces but the manner in which they have won it; one can only say it was worth the wait.
The team started the season in almost the same way it has done for most of the last eight years, losing two of their first four league matches and at one stage, despite being so early in the season, some analysts had started to predict doom.
It actually looked at that time as though a move back to Nyanza was a wrong decision, but the new club chairman Abdallah Murenzi dropped a masterstroke by sacking Abdul Bizimungu and replaced him with Didier Gomes da Rosa—and as they say, the rest is now history. And if the arrival of the Frenchman in late October was the turning point in the club’s fragile fortunes, there are other factors that helped him and the team to achieve success when least expected.
Here is a look at the key factors that led to Rayon Sport success.
1. Nyanza District intervention
The decision to return to Nyanza, the club’s original home at the start of the season was greeted with mixed reactions from both fans and analysts but because the end justifies the means, it has proved to be the best judgment.
Thanks to the district authority led by Mayor Murenzi, who took over the management of the club. Rayon’s biggest Achilles heel over the years had been poor administration and once that was sorted out, it was going to be just a matter of when and not if, for the good times to return.
2. Hiring Didier Gomes da Rosa
Foreign coaches and or money don’t always guarantee success but the Frenchman and Rayon fans will tell you otherwise. Gomez’s arrival was the defining moment for the team’s performances and good results.
Since taking over, Rayon have only lost once against Mukura, which did not stop the team from climbing up the table and when it reached the top, no one has seemed capable of bringing it down.
3. Signing Hamisi Cedric in January
When Jerome Sina went on his usual escapades in DR Congo after falling out with the club, the management fought had to sign Cedric as a replacement and the Burundian international has gone on to be the club’s best signing since a certain Labama Bokota a couple of years ago.
The midfielder cum striker has scored 15 league goals, breaking the record of 14 set by Bokota and Jimmy Gatete when they signed for Rayon and APR respectively mid season.
4. Signing Johnson Bagoole
The Ugandan international, despite losing a yard or two in his ageing legs has proved to be another key signing for the club. The former Atraco and APR player is one of the best defensive midfielder not only in Rwanda but the region and his vast experience has been key to Rayon’s success.