2008 Champions League results
APR 1-2 Zamalek
Harar Beer 2-0 Rayon Sport
Optimism for Rwanda’s representatives, APR and Rayon Sport to advance to the second rounds of the Caf-MTN Champions League and Caf Confederations Cup are very wiry following a poor display by both sides.
Nine-time national football league champions APR suffered humiliation in their backyard as they lost 1-2 to a tactically superior EL Zamalek in the first round first leg of the MTN/CAF Champions league at Nyamirambo stadium last Saturday.
The Cairo club traveled to Rwanda with a revenge mission having been whipped 4-1 by military club APR in the same competition four years ago.
Moustafa Gafar and Hamza Gamal scored for the Egyptian side before APR’s Atcham Atcham grabbed a late consolation.
Given the near invincibility of Egyptian clubs at home, Zamalek appear set to reach the second of three qualifying rounds for the group phase of the US$3.5m competition.
After APR’s upset, Rayon Sport lost to Harar Beer 0-2 in the Confederation Cup in Ethiopia. With such unsatisfying results, there is surely little hope for the soccer fraternity to believe that the country’s representatives who will travel to Egypt and play Ethiopian club at home in two weeks have the mantle to over turn the results.
APR needs a 2-0 result while Rayon needs a 3-0 result to see them through to the next round.
APR’s previous continental engagements have not yielded any fruits following the 2006 early exit from the Caf Confederations Cup and the 2007 elimination from the Champions League.
Last year, APR failed to go past the second round after abandoning their game away to Maranatha. The match was awarded to the home side Maranatha after the military side abandoned the game in the 87th minute with Maranatha leading 2-0.
Mfutila still confident
APR coach Andy Mfutila who guided the team to the second round of the 2007 Champions League attributed his side’s average show to inexperience and absence of his influential players. He, however, believes APR can reach the second round Caf Champions league.
“I hope with the presence of Aime Ndizeye, Mbuyu Twite, Kabange Twite and knee-injury-recovering Haruna Niyonzima, we can qualify for the second round in Cairo,”
“Most of the players who played the Zamalek game were young and they displayed an average performance but they have tested the competition and I know we will have a better game in Cairo,” said Mfutila.
Defending champions Etoile Sahel of Tunisia have a bye into the second round.
The return leg of both Champions league and Confederation Cup matches will be played on February 29-March 1-2.