DEFENDING champions Rayon Sports are in good mood and ready for Saturday’s Turbo King Football League clash against archrivals APR FC at Amahoro national stadium, according to head coach Didier Gomes da Roasa.
Speaking to Saturday Sport on Thursday, the Frenchman said, “We want to have a successful season and to be able to achieve it, we must win more football matches than we lose, starting with Saturday’s game against APR.”
The Frenchman is optimistic his players have the momentum heading into Saturday’s clash against their bitter enemies at 3:30pm following their 1-0 win over Mukura last weekend whereas APR could only draw 0-0 away to Etincelles.
The champions are second on the table with 16 points, two adrift of leaders AS Kigali and another ahead of APR after seven rounds of matches.
“My players have developed great mental strength as a result of playing three out of seven matches with ten men for long periods because we have had three red cards, and we have been able to win those matches,” said Gomes.
Rayon have lost only once this season against Police two weeks ago but Gomes looks back at the defeat with regret, “It was a big disappointment to lose against Police because of some mistakes we made.”
“But we have already forgotten about that, and now we are concentrating on the next match against APR, which is going to be even tougher. We have the momentum after that win against Mukura and I hope the players will keep their discipline on Saturday,” he noted.
The Frenchman insists, “In every game you need to display a top-level performance and that’s what we want to do on Saturday if we are to have a chance to win.”
While Gomes has been boosted by the return of Ugandan striker Samson Jakeshi, who had gone AWOL over a pay dispute with the club, his skipper Fuadi Ndayisenga is eagerly looking forward to a meeting with his former club.
“It’s always a good feeling to play against your former team and I am looking forward to facing the (APR) as Rayon Sports captain. This is Rwanda’s version of ‘El Classico’ and it means a lot to us. We are not taking this game lightly, we want maximum points.”
Since 1995, Rayon Sports and APR have created a bitter rivalry with the later going on to win a record 13 league titles compared to seven for the former during that period.
APR assistant coach Vincent Mashami said that the 13-times Rwandan champions, seeking a record extending 14th league title, have been training hard in a bid to garner maximum points against their archrivals and go top of the league standing.
“It is going to be a tough game keeping in mind that we lost the last encounter against Rayon Sports last season. However, this is a new league and we can’t continue to think about what happened the previous season but work hard to ensure that we don’t repeat the same mistakes,” he said on Wednesday. After years of dominance, the Nyanza-based Rayon handed the army side one of their heaviest defeats in recent years as they succumbed to a 4-0 loss in March this year.
In 2002, Rayon Sports beat APR 4-1 at Amahoro, but they have since struggled to beat their rivals in the last six years or so. However, after that famous result last season, the Blues would be feeling confident going into today’s game.
The champions got four points off APR and in the last 10 matches, APR have won two games, drew five and lost three.
With all the weekend fixtures being played on Saturday, AS Kigali will be hoping to maintain their grip on top spot when they host third from bottom Esperance at Stade de Kigali, kick off is 3:30pm
Elsewhere, after two back to back defeats against APR and Rayon Sports, Mukura will be seeking to return to winning ways when they host Police at Kamena stadium, Musanze travel to Rubavu to take on Marines, while Espoir host Amagaju in Rusizi.
In other matches, much improved Gilbert Kanyankole’s SC Kiyovu face second from bottom AS Muhanga at Mumena, while Etincelles travel to Jean Baptiste Kayiranga’s side Gicumbi FC in Gicumbi.
APR vs Rayon: Probable starting teams
APR FC: Jean-Claude Ndoli, Michel Rusheshangoga, Emery Bayisenge, Ismael Nshutiyamagara, Albert Ngabo, Andrew Buteera, Jean Baptiste Mugiraneza, Charles Tibingana, Jean-Claude Iranzi, Ntamuhanga Tumaine, Michel Ndahinduka.
Rayon Sports: Jean Luc Ndayishimiye, Karim Nizigiyimana, Hussein Sibomana, Idi Nshimiyimana, Abuba Sibomana, DJihad Bizimana, Aphrodis Hategekimana, Cedric Amissi, Fuadi Ndayisenga, Samson Jakeshi, Meddie Kagere.
Wai Yeka Musanze 6
B. Hategikimana Marines 3
Jimmy Mbaraga AS Kigali 3