Rwanda’s Peace Cup champions AS Kigali head into today’s Caf Confederation Cup first leg game against Sudanese side Al Ahly Shendi looking for a repeat of the winning formula used in their qualification campaign to the first round a fortnight ago.
The City of Kigali-sponsored side take on the Sudanese giants this afternoon at Stade de Kigali, starting at 3:30pm. It’s the first time AS Kigali Football Club has reached the first round of the competition in two attempts—the first was back in 2002.
Andre Gasambungo’s team cruised into the first round of the continent’s biggest club competition courtesy of a 2-1 aggregate score over the two legs against Burundian side Academie Tchite.
AS Kigali won the preliminary round first leg match 1-0 thanks to Bodo Ndikumana’s goal at Stade de Kigali earlier last month. That impressive result on home soil set the tone for the second leg in Bujumbura, which ended in a 1-1 stalemate.
Heading into today’s opening round fixture, head coach Gasambungo says his team will be looking for more of the same albeit against a better opposition.
“It is the same as every home game in the competitions that are played over two legs. You are looking for a good result on your home ground, score as many goals and do not concede,” Gasambungo told yesterday.
He added, “My players have gained confidence and with the preliminary round victory, they are focused and eager to make Rwanda proud in reaching as far as we can in this competition.”
The former SEC Academy coach says he has a fully fit squad for the difficult challenge ahead. Skipper Jimmy Mbaraga, scorer of that all-important away goal against Academie Tchité is expected to lead the search for goals.
In the national league, AS Kigali are third on the table with 34 points, nine behind leaders and reigning champions Rayon Sports and second-placed APR FC, but the City of Kigali team have played a game less.
Al Ahly Shendi arrived in the country on Thursday with a 40-man delegation, determined to get an away win. This season, Al Ahly Shendi has collected five points in three matches in the Sudanese Premier league which started on February 5.
In 2012, Al Ahly Shendi which is managed by Tunisian Faith Nagar reached the semi -finals of this competition, which was won by Congolese side AC Leopards. AC Leopards eliminated Rayon Sports from this year’s Caf Champions League at the qualifying round last month.
“We will play with great determination and also take our opponents into consideration. We can say now that we are accustomed to playing in this competition,” Nagar said yesterday.
“We have prepared well for this match. Our goal is to get a positive result in Kigali and then complete the job in the second leg at home,” he added.
The game will be officiated by Ethiopian referees; Bamlak Tessema Weyesa (center), Tigle Gizaw Belachew (1st assistant) and Temesgin Samuel Atangomu as 2nd assistant.