For Rayon fans, New Year’s cheer started early

For the first time this season, Rayon Sports on Boxing Day assumed leadership of the national football league– and it could not have come at a better time.
Ivan R. Mugisha
Ivan R. Mugisha

For the first time this season, Rayon Sports on Boxing Day assumed leadership of the national football league– and it could not have come at a better time.

The champions looked somewhat out of sorts at the beginning of the season, failing to find consistency and falling outside the top four. When they lost two consecutive games in mid October to rivals APR and then Etincelles, their fate seemed rubber-stamped.

They’ve now beaten the odds and look unstoppable at the moment. In recent t days, the champions have won handsomely and are the most in-form team in the league at the moment.

Having been written off as contenders this season, Rayon now look like the fearsome force that swept all adversaries aside to lift the title last season, their first in eight odd years.

For Rayon Sports fans, the 5-0 drubbing of second-from-bottom side Esperance FC on Thursday coupled with APR’s draw against Espoir amounted to a priceless present during the busy festive period.

Even as snatching the first spot away from APR may be a temporary achievement considering that the latter have played a game less. 

Competitive league

The world over, countries crave for competitive national leagues, whereby the strength of clubs is evenly balanced, with the hope that it would eventually reflect in the national team.

National leagues where just one team always runs away with the title every season or where it is always a two or three horse race are normally a turn off for the neutral football lovers.

In that sense, Rwanda’s league is slowly transforming itself into a competitive league – it is now evenly poised and offers much to ponder about every time before kickoff.

It bears characteristics of the current English Premier League season, where only a point separates the top four clubs and any loss or draw sinks any of the top clubs close to the bottom half of the table.

At the start, AS Kigali seemed to be running away with it. They have been the surprise package so far.

Suddenly, APR joined the fray, piling pressure on the City of Kigali youthful side. Meanwhile, the current leaders, Rayon Sports were struggling to even put together two consecutive wins. They suffered both on and off the pitch, dropping precious points and then two of their players went AWOL due to contract issues.

As you read this, Kiyovu SC and Police FC have thrown their hat into the mix.

Even after humiliating lowly AS Muhanga 6-1 on Boxing Day, Police FC find themselves in sixth place, while Kiyovu are fourth; they are separated by one point and only three points behind Rayon! This explains the intensity of the league. In fact, only four points separate leaders Rayon and seventh-placed Espoir! 

It is so open that anyone can win it at the end of the day. With 14 games left to play, the teams in the top seven spots (top half of the table) could be forgiven to give themselves a chance. But any laxity could also prove disastrous for any of them. Hopefully, that will subsequently have a positive impact on Amavubi who are in dire need of salvation!

 On Twitter @RushAfrican

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