I used to think lightening does not strike twice but this time it did. ‘Greatness is about winning’ but it’s also about timing.’
APR football club has once again realised the grass is greener closer to home than afar after knocking on Isonga’s door to acquire old boy Eric Nshimiyimana as their new head coach, a year after the 39-year old was sacked under mysterious circumstances.
Due to the length of his second name, I will refer to him by his first name. Eric returns to the military side he played for and coached after the 13th national league champions accused him of being involved in ‘juju’ in the build-up to Amavubi’s 3-1 defeat against Burundi in the Nations’ cup qualifier. Intricate!
So upon his return, much as he is buzzing with positive energy; what still remains an issue to be seen whether he can take the military side from the group stages of the Orange Champions League, secondly does he posses better tricks/ magic in the purse than Dutchman Ernest Brandts, or still; is this as good as it gets for the local giants?
During his spell at Isonga last season, Eric built a reputation as a coach that reaped heavily where he barely sowed when he moved the club to six position with 32 points.
APR is a club with a stable winning history, at least on local and regional stages, yet when it comes to continental competitions, they have struggled and the results have been more wrecking on a depressing scale.
It has become evident that their approach swivels around the MTN-Peace Cup, Primus league much as being capable of signing players from as far as Brazil and Haiti.
An apparent crack in Brandts impressive record as APR coach was with his failure to add the Kagame Cup to the two league title and two Peace Cup trophies he won during his two-year spell—also under him, the club failed to go beyond the first round of the CAF Champions League despite spending millions on new players.
The main challenge for Eric will be to try and revive the club’s fortunes on the continental level and there is a sense among his bosses that he could be the perfect man for the job.
Under APR’s new policy of using more Rwandan players than foreigners, which has been the case in the past, it doesn’t get any harder even for any coach, and for Eric, it won’t be very simple.
His first big task is going to be replacing a weary squad of veterans and foreign players with young local talents, which is not an easy task given the club’s record with young players.
However, his arrival is a major positive for both the club and the young local players, who respect and admire him. Fortunate for him is the fact that he has worked with the majority of the players in various capacities, which gives him ample knowledge of who he is going to work with.
APR have never released the findings of their ‘investigation’ into allegations linking Eric Nshimiyimana with witchcraft use, and his return to the club in a higher position shows the claims were just a smokescreen.
It’s too early to write him off as the season has hasn’t started, so we need to wait and see, whether Eric is better than Brandts or a capable replacement or it simply will be the same old story.