League fixture load takes toll on players

It has been an intense start in the National Football League with four games played in a space of 11 days so far and it has certainly taken a toll on the players.
Police striker Emmanuel Sebanani (L) in action against Kiyovu. Coaches are worried the fixture pile up will affect the players. (Timothy Kisambira)
Police striker Emmanuel Sebanani (L) in action against Kiyovu. Coaches are worried the fixture pile up will affect the players. (Timothy Kisambira)

It has been an intense start in the National Football League with four games played in a space of 11 days so far and it has certainly taken a toll on the players.

Straight from a close to inactive pre-season to a hectic schedule, the players have so far been comprehensively tested physically and mentally.

With games across the country, teams have had to travel long distances to play and maintain top form before returning home to feature in yet another game in just three or four days.

Rayon Sports’ right back Karim Nizigiyimana admitted that, “We are fatigued because we have played too many games in a short period of time. It is not easy but we have no other option but to keep going.”

Nizigiyimana, who has played every minute of his side’s last four games, revealed that he has resorted to feeding on vitamins to boost his energy.

Rayon Sports’ interim head coach Sosthene Habimana confirmed that the current league format has hit hard on the Nyanza-based side that does not play its home games in the Southern Province.

“We play our home games in Kigali which means we have to travel to and from Kigali and then again to and from an away game which has left our players very exhausted,” Habimana said.

The Blues who played Etincelles on Wednesday in Gisenyi have just 48 hours to prepare for a crucial derby against rivals APR on Sunday at Amahoro stadium, kick off at 6pm.

Habimana explained that this has affected the team’s training schedule because sessions have to be very light and then build up towards the next match.

APR’s head coach Ljubomir Petrovic is also concerned about the fixture pile up. He said, “It is not good. The players are very tired and yet we have to play against Rayon Sports on Sunday.”

APR and Rayon Sports will also have players involved in more games during the international break when they feature for Amavubi in a friendly against Morocco this month.

Newly promoted side Isonga played their opening fixture against Etincelles in Gisenyi before facing Rayon Sports in Kigali three days later.

The youthful Isonga side then travelled to Rusizi to play against Espoir last Saturday and back to Kigali to face Gicumbi on Wednesday.

Isonga’s head coach Innocent Seninga revealed that he has had to rotate his entire squad and each of his 24 players has already featured in a league game.

However, Seninga said this is good for his players who are mostly teenagers learning the game and yearning to get experience.

Ferwafa says that the fixture pile up was inevitable because the league was delayed so that clubs get legal statuses to operate as business entities.

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