The first round of the national football league season has been horrific for both AS Muhanga and Etincelles FC to say the least; both teams languish at the bottom of the 16-team table standing.
Indeed, their form has moved from bad to worse, and if they do not get their act together soon they run the risk of immediately returning to the second tier division. With the league returning on April 15 after the current Genocide commemoration break, As Muhanga and Etincelles will be hoping to quickly put their campaigns back on track.
Out of the 15 games played so far, bottom side AS Muhanga have just four points, after losing 11 games and conceding the most number of goals (31) so far this season, while only Marines FC, with only five goals so far, have scored less goals (one less).
Against newcomers Bugesera, Muhanga seemed to have an upper hand but the game ended in a goalless draw.
And towards Valentine’s Day, they settled for a one-all draw against Rwamagana City before losing their last match to Kiyovu 1-2.
More importantly, it does not look like things are about to take a turn for the better. These are difficult days for coach Edward Rutayisire.
With a huge following in Muhanga, beside enjoying a stable sponsorship from the district, fans have a reason to get bitter, having seen their club languish in the second division league for the last four seasons.
Rutayisire will need to go back to the drawing board.
“I have talked with the club to put the whole team in one location to avoid cases of players moving out to catch a pint or to engage in other non-football related issues when they are on their own,” he said.
With the signing of former Rayon Sports striker Bogota Labama as well as experienced defenders Omar Hitimana and Bonaventure Hategekimana, Rutayisire believes the good times are not far for his team.
Etincelles FC, the other club in trouble, their problems started last season when they were relegated along with Isonga FC, only for the Rubavu-based side to bounce back immediately albeit through the backdoor.
They sold off most of their good players, but then unexpectedly they returned to the topflight league when a decision was taken by the national football governing body, FERWAFA, to increase the number of teams in the league from 14 to 16 this season—hence the return of both Etincelles and AS Muhanga (who had finished third in the second tier league and had not earned promotion to topflight league but benefited from the increase in the number of clubs in the first division).
They have since managed just one win and five draws and lost nine matches. They are nowhere near being safe with such stats and need to regain form sooner rather than later.
For head coach Innocent Seninga, although he reckons there will be light at the end of the tunnel, he admits that, “it will not be easy but we have to fight to get out of the relegation zone.”