Have APR turned the corner?

APR’s spark seemed to have waned at the beginning of the season. At some point, the military side seemed like it was losing ground when it lost to AS Kigali and drew with Police in two consecutive league matches.
Ivan R. Mugisha
Ivan R. Mugisha

APR’s spark seemed to have waned at the beginning of the season. At some point, the military side seemed like it was losing ground when it lost to AS Kigali and drew with Police in two consecutive league matches.

Since then, they are starting to resemble a side on a mission – a club that all the other top contenders dread. The record 13-times league champions showed their true intention in the Rwandan version of ‘El-Clasico’ last Saturday.

The APR vs Rayon Sports clash attracted arguably the biggest crowd ever seen in Rwandan football at the Amahoro national stadium. The noise was unbearable as Rayon fans dwarfed their APR counterparts, but it was the latter who went home the happiest lot after their team won 1-0.

At one point, it seemed like it was going well for Rayon Sport – like they were going to win the game and continue celebrations from last season’s 4-0 drubbing.

That win may well be a spark for APR, but the strengths so far lie in other factors other than victories against archrivals. APR’s strength has come through consistency.

Unlike several other contenders like Police, SC Kiyovu and Rayon Sports, APR have lately dusted themselves of bad results and hit top form.  Andreas Spier’s team is now hot on the heels of early season pacesetters AS Kigali. Only one point now separates the two sides.

In second position, APR seem like they are slowly turning out to be the title favourites.

With all due respect to AS Kigali, who have continued to impress, I believe that APR have just hit top gear at the right moment in the title race.

Defending champions Rayon Sports, on the other hand, are in danger of being labeled a “one hit wonder” if they do not pull up their socks.

Defeat to APR might be painful but at least understandable; however, the Blues’ subsequent loss to Etincelles FC is unforgivable for a side full of top players, at least by our standards. If for nothing else, this tie was a perfect chance for Rayon to prove that they are still the team to beat even after they had lost to their main rivals.

A third of the season is now gone but last season’s champions find themselves in fifth position, with only four wins out of nine matches played so far. This is definitely good for neutrals, who want a competitive league, but it is bad news for Rayon fans, who are craving to retain the title – that had not been forthcoming for years.

Six points separate Rayon Sports and AS Kigali – this is by any means a huge mountain to climb but not completely out of reach for Didier Gomes da Rosa’s side. The Blues have to make sure they hit top form, while they also hope that AS Kigali, APR and Kiyovu drop significant points.

Other than that, this season will disappear in the grey fast enough and all that will remain for Rayon is to plan for 2014.

@RushAfrican on Twitter

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