APR coach Erik Paske jetted in Sunday night to finally put to rest rumours that he had been shown the exit after the club’s hasty exit from the lucrative Orange Champions League.
Upon his arrival, the 45-year-old told Times Sport that he was already psyched up for the Kagame Cup which kicks off next Saturday.
“Our group is a difficult one but I believe that we have a good team to help us reach the knockout stage. If we play TP Mazembe the same way we did in the first leg of the Champions league, we shall be fine,” the Dutch tactician said.
“We also have to make the most of our home advantage.”
APR, who last won the Cup in 2007 under Andy Mfutila, is drawn in Pool A alongside TP Mazembe, Vital’O of Burundi and Djibouti’s Telkom.
The army side will open their campaign at Amahoro Stadium against Vital’O on May 15.
Other teams in contention include Rayon Sport, Jimmy Gatete’s St. George, Zanzibar’s Mafunzo and Heartland of Nigeria while Pool C (arguably the toughest of the three pools) pits reigning champions Atraco against Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), Kenyan champions Sofapaka and Simba of Tanzania.
The two-week long tournament will be held at Amahoro stadium and Nyamirambo stadium respectively. The top two teams and the best two qualifiers from all the three pools will qualify to the quarterfinal.
On top of a lump sum sponsorship package from the Rwandan government worth $1million (Rwf570m), the event has also received $60,000 from long-time sponsor President Paul Kagame.
Last year, Atraco became the third local side to win the tournament after APR and Rayon Sport. The taxi-men side romped to the title after a shocking 1-0 win over hosts El-Merreikh in the final.
It was one of the biggest upsets in the competition’s 34-year history not only because it was the taxi-men’s debut in the event but also because El-Merreikh had hammered Atraco 6-1 in the group stage.