Rayon Sports vs APR FC 3:30pm
Marines vs Espoir
Sunrise FC vs Police FC
AS Kigali vs SC Kiyovu
Gicumbi FC vs Mukura
Etincelles vs AS Muhanga
Troubled Rayon Sports host perennial archrivals and defending champions APR in the biggest match of the Azam Rwanda Premier League this afternoon at Amahoro Stadium, kick-off at 3:30pm.
Rayon Sports will be under assistant coach Sosthene Habimana following the suspension of French coach David Donadei and the former Blues player will be seeking to bring stability in the Nyanza-based club and to propel their chase for the league title.
On the other hand, APR rookie coach Emmanuel Rubona is eager to prove to club hopefuls that he is the man to help them retain the league title despite his lack of experience and big-name status that the APR fans are used to after years of success.
There is no love lost when these two sides meet and as a result, expectations are high among both clubs’ leaders, players and fans heading into the biggest match of the season on the local football calendar.
Every season, this is the most-awaited fixture because it is not just about three points, if anything, it is about bragging rights. To some fans of both sides, winning this fixture is more important than winning the league title.
For Rayon Sports, who are in 6th position with eight points, two behind third-placed APR, anything less than a win would not only diminish their hopes of winning the title but also affect their morale following a difficult last few days when Frenchman Donadei announced he was leaving the club after being suspended by his bosses for Saturday’s clash.
However, Habimana, who has worked in the same capacity (interim coach) in the past, has promised Blues fans victory.
He explained that: “We are ready for the contest. We will be up against a very tough opponent but this is an important game for us, it’s a game we badly want to win for different reasons.”
Asked whether the off-field issues between the Donadei and the club management will not have a negative effect on the players performance, he noted, “The players are aware of what has happened, but they have trained normally and I’m sure they won’t be affected by anything once they step on the field.”
His opposite number, Rubona, who is yet to win approval of a section of APR fans despite winning three of the first five games, knows a win today, will go a long way to convince the skeptics that he’s the right man for the job.
“We always prepare well for every game because we always want to win every game, whether it’s against Rayon Sports, Marines or Amagaju. I know this fixture (against Rayon Sports) is more than just about three points but for me, what we want is a win and that’s what we’ll try to do,” he told Saturday Sport.
Rubona, who will be missing the service of striker Michel Ndahinduka (knee injury), added, “This is the most important fixture for both clubs so I expect both teams to give their best to win.”
In the first five matches this season, Rayon Sports have registered wins over Marines 1-0, Mukura 2-0, drawn against Police FC 1-1, Etincelles 0-0 and lost to AS Kigali 2-1.
Meanwhile, APR’s start includes three wins, one loss and one draw, in their first five fixtures against Etincelles (1-0), Mukura (0-2), Police FC (1-1), Bugesera (2-0) and Rwamagana (1-0).
Last season APR beat Rayon Sports under Andy Mfutila twice; 1-0 in the first round and 4-0 in the second round under interim coach Habimana after the Congolese tactician (Mfutila) had been sacked.
Rayon Sports are looking for the eighth title overall and the first since 2013 which they won under Frenchamn Didier Gomes da Rosa while APR are looking for a record-extending 16th title since 1995.
Since 1995, both sides have met 74 times in official matches with Rayon Sports winning 23 and APR have 30 wins while the other 21 clashes have ended in draws.
In those 74 matches, 220 goals have been scored in total, with 106 for Rayon Sports 114 goals for the APR.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Andre Casa Mbungo’s second-placed Police FC take on Sunrise, who are in 11th position with six points, at Rwamagana ground, while league leaders AS Kigali host SC Kiyovu at Mumena stadium on Sunday. AS Kigali and Police are the only two unbeaten sides in the league.
Rodriguez Murengezi AS Kigali 4
Isaie Songa Police FC 4
Kasirye Davis Rayon Sports 4
Christopher Ndayishimiye Mukura 3
Peter Otema Musanze FC 3
Djihad Rucogoza Bugesera FC 2
Ernest Sugira AS Kigali 2
Jacques Tuyisenge Police FC 1