League title race still open - Nshimiyimana

With eight games left to the end of the National Football League season, the race for the title remains open despite APR enjoying a seven-point lead at the top of the table standing.
The league game between the top two teams, APR and AS Kigali ended in a goalless draw to leave the army side seven points clear at the top. (T. Kisambira)
The league game between the top two teams, APR and AS Kigali ended in a goalless draw to leave the army side seven points clear at the top. (T. Kisambira)

With eight games left to the end of the National Football League season, the race for the title remains open despite APR enjoying a seven-point lead at the top of the table standing.

The army side has amassed 39 points from 17 games with 12 wins, three draws and two losses but have a tough run of games coming up including their next fixture against Police FC on Saturday at Kicukiro stadium.

The law enforcers are currently third on the table tied on points with AS Kigali (32 points) but the latter has a better goal difference (+12) as compared to Police’s +11.

AS Kigali’s head coach Eric Nshimiyimana admitted that, “The battle for the title is still on because realistically even Rayon Sports (fourth) are still in the race. Of course, APR is ahead of us by seven points but our aim is to win all our remaining games.”

Defending champions APR have to juggle commitments in the domestic league and in the Caf Champions League as they face their toughest test in recent years when they take on Egyptian giants Al Ahly in the first round with the first game being played in Kigali on the weekend of March 13-15.

The depth of APR’s squad and ability to cope with fatigue will come in handy if they are to emerge successful and that is why APR’s interim head coach Vincent Mashami rested centre back Emery Bayisenge, playmaker Jean Claude Iranzi as well as defensive midfielder Jean Baptiste Mugiraneza in the midweek clash.

Rayon Sports were held to a goalless draw by bottom side Isonga FC on Wednesday in Muhanga but despite earning a point, the Blues sit in fourth position with 26 points from 17 games with just six wins, eight draws and three losses.

Ten points adrift their archrivals APR, Rayon Sports who have a thin squad compared to their army side, need to return to winning consistently if they are to challenge for the title.

At this stage, last season the Blues were on pole position to win their eighth league title but a lot has changed since then. They have to travel to Rusizi to face Espoir this weekend before travelling to Egypt to face Zamalek in the first round of the Caf Confederation Cup first leg.

APR next five games – Police (March 7), Al Ahly (March 14), Espoir (March 18), Mukura (March 22), Gicumbi (April 5)

AS Kigali next five games – Amagaju (March 8), Isonga (March 18), Musanze (March 21), Etincelles (April 5), Rayon Sports (April 19)

Police next five games – APR (March 7), Mukura (March 17), Amagaju (March 21), Isonga (April 5), Musanze (April 18)

Rayon Sports next five games – Musanze (March 8), Gicumbi (March 18), Kiyovu (March 22), Sunrise (April 5), AS Kigali (April 19).

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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