It is expected that a big club of APR’s stature will sail through games, big or small, unscathed but such is the impression the record champions have created over the past two decades since their inception in 1993.
The success achieved by their predecessors at all fronts is currently the yardstick to judge the current generation of APR players but only the latter are a young lot with a little above modest experience.
Over a fortnight ago, APR’s fixture list read; archrivals Rayon Sports, Mozambican champions Liga Desportiva de Maputo, second placed AS Kigali, third placed Police FC and after defeating Desportiva, Egyptian giants Al Ahly awaits them in the first round of the Caf Champions League.
Fast forward and they defeated Rayon Sports, in a historic 4-0 triumph, their biggest win over their fiercest rivals in club history, a spirited comeback from a goal down to beat Desportiva after scoring two goals in six minutes (78th and 84th), managed a goalless draw against AS Kigali and lost a two-goal lead as Police FC forced a 2-2 draw on Saturday.
APR captain Ismael Nshutiyamagara has hailed his teammates for their ability to withstand the challenge at hand and admitted that it has been a daunting period for the army side – mentally and physically.
It is such challenges that will grant the youthful players the knack above their opponents locally and in the region as well as prepare them for a completely rough turf in continental competitions.
APR interim head coach Vincent Mashami admitted that his players are fatigued and is exactly why he rested centre back Emery Bayisenge, midfielders Jean Claude Iranzi and Jean Baptiste Mugiraneza during the AS Kigali game in midweek.
Against Al Ahly, they face the biggest test of all in the 21st century and Mashami revealed that, “We cannot afford to lose concentration at any one time in the game. We have to be on top of our game.”
This was in reference to giving away a 2-0 lead against Police which netted twice to force a draw.
Meanwhile, Mugiraneza who missed the past two league games due to an ear infection and Andrew Buteera who limped off the 2-2 draw against Police are back to training. The army side will train twice today in preparation for the Al Ahly encounter on Saturday.