AS Kigali head coach Eric Nshimiyimana says this season’s title race is not a two horse race after guiding his team to within 2 points of league leaders APR as the first half of the league draws to a close.
Nshimiyimana who joined the City of Kigali side on a two-year contract in July wants to dislodge traditional giants APR and Rayon Sports that have dominated domestic football for two decades.
“Our target as a team is to win the league title and we are working to get to the top on a daily basis. We have to dream big and aim higher to be the best,” revealed Nshimiyimana in an interview with Times Sport.
The ex-Amavubi coach, who also enjoyed a successful career at APR and with the national football team as a defensive midfielder, has been coaching for a decade and believes that the reason his former club-APR, Rayon Sports and AS Kigali are the best clubs in the country is because they have good administrative structures, which is a source of motivation.
“These clubs have good leaders who follow football closely and we too have good leadership. If we want something, we cannot fail to get it so now it is down to the players. My philosophy rotates around discipline and hard work that will guide us to the top,” Nshimiyimana said.
The 42-year-old tactician had to deal with a team that had just lost three key players including goalkeeper Emery Mvuyekure, left back Mwemere Ngirinshuti and talisman Jimmy Mbaraga who joined former AS Kigali head coach Andre Cassa Mbungo at Police.
However, he signed the APR trio of Ernest Sugira, Isaie Songa and Hamdan Kayiranga and has since turned them into dependable players.
Nshimiyimana admits that he has a young side with an average age of 22 years that has a lot to learn from him but he is quick to note that they listen and want to learn.
“We use different tactics for different opponents. However, I like to play free-flowing football but sometimes we play long balls depending on the opponents,” explained Nshimiyimana.
In Captain Jean Pierre Mabula (midfielder) and striker Ernest Sugira, Nshimiyimana boasts of some of the tallest players in the league who fit in well with this philosophy. With Sugira and Justin Mico being regulars in the Amavubi squad, experience and exposure will rub off at club level too.
Nshimiyimana acknowledges his side’s impressive defense and goalkeeper Shamiru Batte that have only conceded four times this season.
With only 10 games played so far this season, the former Amavubi coach points out Champions APR, Rayon Sports and Police as the other title contenders.
AS Kigali clinched the Ombudsman Cup on December 7 which was Nshimiyimana’s second career trophy as a coach with his first being the 2012 RDF silver jubilee anniversary cup.