Clash of egos as APR face Rayon in Super Cup
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Archrivals, Rayon Sports and APR FC will face-off today in the second edition of the Super Cup at Umuganda Stadium in Rubavu district at 6pm.
The game that pits last season’s Azam Rwanda Premier League champions, Rayon Sports, and Peace Cup winner, APR, is the second between the two teams in a space of seven days.
Olivier Karekezi takes Rayon Sports into the game on a high following success in Agaciro Development Fund tournament after edging the army side last Saturday at Amahoro Stadium; thanks to the lone goal from former APR left-back Eric Rutanga.
However, APR head coach Jimmy Mulisa warned that they have prepared well for the Super Cup clash and are determined to avoid a second successive defeat against their bitter rivals.
“This is another game and different from the last one, we lost (the last match) and I have to admit that we didn’t play particularly well, but I think we’re better prepared (for Super Cup) mentally, physically and technically,” Mulisa told Saturday Sport.
The former Rwanda international, who is entering his second season in charge of the record 16-time league champions, noted that, “I have no doubt in my mind that the game on Saturday (today) will be tough but we’re looking forward to get a better result.”
Last Saturday’s defeat in Agaciro Cup was Mulisa’s first loss against Rayon Sports since joining the club as coach last season, and will be looking to keep his good record. Under Mulisa, APR FC have faced Rayon Sports four times, and the military side have won twice, drawn one and lost one.
“We have to forget what happened in the last game, that’s in the past. We have to make sure we do better in the Super Cup than we did last Saturday,” Mulisa tipped his players.
Best of friends
There is no love lost whenever APR take on Rayon Sports, and today’s clash will not be any different from the past encounters, which have always produced entertainment, goals and at times drama.
Karekezi and Mulisa are best friends and never played against each other as players but instead played together for both APR and Amavubi in the 2000s—Karekezi was also Mulisa’s best man at his wedding last year.
Last Saturday, it was the first time Karekezi played against his former club APR where he started his playing career in 1998 until he turned professional in 2005.
Having won the first encounter, the 35-year-old, in his first job as coach at the senior level, is looking to make it two wins in a row as he bids to make a firm statement ahead of the start of 2017/18 season later this month.
“This is another big match for Rayon Sports and their fans, we have to be prepared for it in the best way we possibly can. We want to win the game to stay in positive mood ahead of the league start,” Karekezi said.
Karekezi will rely on the return of his midfield maestro, Burundi international Pierrot Kwizera, who was red carded in the game against AS Kigali in the second game of Agaciro Cup, while Rwandan international Muhadjir Hakizimana will also be free to feature for APR FC after being red carded against Rayon Sports last Saturday.
“APR was my team when I was a player but now it is different because this is my job. I am an employee of Rayon Sports and I have to fulfill my duties, so on Saturday I will be looking for nothing other than a win,” karekezi stated.
Each team received Rwf3 million from the sponsors, Azam, to prepare of the game—the winner will earn Rwf5 million on top of a trophy, while the loser will walk away with nothing.
The game will serve as a curtain-raiser for the 2017/18 league season scheduled to kick off on September 29.
APR ahead in past meetings
The two teams will be meeting for the 81st time since 1995. In the previous 80 meetings, Rayon Sports have won 24 and APR 32 times, while the other 24 encounters have ended in draws.
A total of 126 goals have been scored between the two sides with APR finding the net on more occasions (65) against Rayon Sports’ 61.
Rayon Sports will begin their Azam Rwanda Premier League title defence next Friday against AS Kigali at Kigali Stadium while APR will host Sunrise FC on Saturday at the same venue.
APR and Rayon Sports will meet in the league first round on January 6, 2018 with the Blues as the host at Amahoro National Stadium.
On top of seeking to retain the league title, Karekezi’s Rayon Sports will also represent Rwanda in next year’s CAF Champions League, while Mulisa and APR will carry the country’s flag in the CAF Confederation Cup.