APR FC on brink of 14th league title

FORMER LEAGUE champions APR could be declared winners of the Turbo King League title today only if they secure a win over relegation-bound AS Muhanga in a crucial final match of the season due at Kigali Regional Stadium.
Midfielder Tumaine Ntamuhanga will be a big boost for APR as they seek to secure a win and their 14th league title against AS Muhanga today at Kigali Regional Stadium. (Timothy Kisambira)
Midfielder Tumaine Ntamuhanga will be a big boost for APR as they seek to secure a win and their 14th league title against AS Muhanga today at Kigali Regional Stadium. (Timothy Kisambira)

Yesterday
AS Kigali 1-1 SC Kiyovu
Mukura 2-2 Espoir

Sunday
APR vs. AS Muhanga (Regional)
Rayon Sports vs. Musanze (Mumena)
Etincelles vs. Amagaju (Umuganda)
Police vs. Marines (Kicukiro)
Gicumbi vs. Esperance (Gicumbi)

FORMER LEAGUE champions APR could be declared winners of the Turbo King League title today only if they secure a win over relegation-bound AS Muhanga in a crucial final match of the season due at Kigali Regional Stadium.

For the last 20 years, APR FC has never been relegation candidates but title contenders all through their stay in the Rwandan league and this season has not been an exception.

After years using foreign players, the military side took the decision to use only Rwandan players two seasons ago. Consequently, Rwanda’s most successful football club ended the season empty-handed for the first time since 1996.

But APR who have won 13 league, 8 peace cup and three Cecafa Kagame Cup titles respectively has this season’s title to lose as they face cash-stripped AS Muhanga in the final match of the season.

Speaking to Sunday Sport, head coach Mashami said that his side is well placed to lift the title today. “This is our final game of the season. It’s a do-or-die affair as we seek to win the league title. We will go into that game against AS Muhanga with full power,”

“We have no room for mistakes because any slight mistake will be a contributing factor for our rival (Rayon Sports) to lift the title.”

“We are facing a strong opponent and despite their position in the relegation zone, they have a strong and experienced team with a good tactical coach. We need a win to lift the title and they need a win to escape relegation, so this is our chance to silence them and everyone else who thinks that APR can’t win the league title,” added Mashami.

His counterpart Coach Ali Bizimungu said that today’s match will be a difficult affair for the Southern Province side.

“We didn’t train on Saturday and Friday because players were on strike for unpaid salary arrears. I have to convince them over the past days to train and focus on Sunday’s game but they could not listen despite the club management’s promise to sort out the issue soon,”

“I will field the available players depending on their cooperation. A win would help us to stay in the league if our rivals lose their matches too,” added Bizimungu.

APR who is missing suspended midfielder Yannick Mukunzi will be welcoming back midfield trio of Tumaine Ntamuhanga, Andrew Buteera and Charles Tibingana.

APR is prime favourites to lift the title as they lead the standings with 61 points, two points ahead of Rayon Sports. The blues need to win their match against Musanze and pray hard for arch rivals to be assured of retaining the title.

The blues will play in an empty stadium as part of the punishment following their fans’ violent action on Easter Sunday that vandalized Amahoro stadium and the referee’s vehicle.

Head coach Belgian Luc Eymael and star striker Cedric Amissi will miss today’s matches following their ban from football actions by Ferwafa. Eymael has been slapped a two-year ban while Amissi is serving a six-month ban.

Today is also crucial for relegation-bound clubs. Etincelles, Amagaju, Esperance and Marines need vital wins to stay put in the league.

Etincelles, placed 10th with 23 points, host Amagaju with 20 points at Umuganda stadium while Police will take on Marines at Kicukiro turf. If Godfrey Okoko’s Amagaju can secure a win against Etincelles, their chances of staying in the league would improve. Esperance will face Gicumbi in another decisive match. 

Ninth-placed Gicumbi host Esperance who sit 13th with 20 points in a tricky tie due in Gicumbi. Jean Baptista Kayiranga’s side have nothing to fight for because they are already assured of staying in the top flight league but a win with seven goals for Esperance would mathematically guarantee them lifeline of featuring in next season’s top division league.

AS Muhanga who face APR sit bottom of the standings with 18 points but if Ali Bizimungu can force a win against APR, and both Amagaju and Esperance lose their matches, then AS Muhanga would keep on featuring in the Turbo King Football League.

 

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