Yves Rwasamanzi must be one of the luckiest Rwandans alive, at least at the moment—for he doesn’t only hold the biggest club coaching job in the country but everything appears to be going right for him and it’s hard to see how APR would want to replace him with someone else.
On the flip side, while Rwasamanzi is humble, friendly, quite well-liked and seems to know a thing or two about coaching as we have seen at his previous jobs with La Jeunesse, Isonga FC and SC Koyovu, to me he lacks the profile and charisma to be the head of coach of Rwanda’s top club.
His coaching CV doesn’t have much to write about and one wonders if he can make the required adjustments to fit in his environment at APR, which is a far bigger club than all his previous jobs put together.
I cannot say APR and Rwasamanzi are a marriage made in heaven, actually very far from it but given the fact that the club have, in recent years, lowered their standards and weight of expectations, it will not be surprising if the two can go on to forge a relatively smooth relationship, though not for so long.
APR have not (yet) confirmed Rwasamanzi as their permanent head coach—he came in as assistant to Gilbert ‘Yaounde’ Kanyankore, who was sacked less than two weeks into the job after the army side failed to win the East Africa Military Games football competition on home soil.
However, to this day, it remains unclear if indeed the former Rayon Sports, SC Kiyovu and Vital’O tactician lost the APR job because of failing to win the regional competition.
One wonders whether there was a clause in his contract that he had to do well in what was just a pre-season competition or lose his job!
Kanyankore’s gods may have deserted him on his return to Rwandan football, for he didn’t only lose the APR job as soon as he got it, but also the Amavubi interim head coach job just 48 hours after he had got it.
His loss though was a gain for both Rwasamanzi and Jimmy Mulisa—the former was installed to lead APR through the ‘AS Kigali Pre-season Tournament’, which he went on to win after beating DR Congo’s AS Vita Club in the final on Saturday while the latter guided Amavubi a morale-boosting 1-1 draw away to Ghana, which helped Rwanda to improve 14 place in the FIFA rankings.
APR, winners of the national league a record 16 times in 22 years, won the Pre-season tournament without losing a single match but also playing good football, something that may sway the bosses to give Yves the job permanently—and why not?
The reigning league champions have the strongest squad of any local team and my prediction is that they will win the league again next season, no doubt about that, whether it’s Rwasamanzi or anyone else in charge, which is why I doubt they’d want to spoil the impetus that the current coach has built.
But the big question is, can Rwasamanzi be the man to change APR’s fortunes in the CAF Champions League and lead the club beyond the third qualification round for the first time since 2004 under the late Jean Marie Ntagwabira or at least the CECAFA Kagame Cup for the first time since 2010?
When Leicester City shocked the football world by winning the English Premier League title last season, their Italian manager Claudio Ranieri said: “There are so many keys to this. Humility, the strength of the dressing room, they help each other at important moments, they play with the heart, the soul, they play 11. There was a good blend.”
Therefore, it remains to be seen, that even without a big personality and, or the trophies on his CV, whether Rwasamanzi, who never played football at a high level, has not only convinced his bosses that he’s the right man for the job but that he can take the club a step further in the right direction.
The only problem with APR is that they’re never predictable in the way they handle their issues, especially when it comes to who the club employs as head coach— Rwasamanzi may wake up tomorrow when a foreigner, most likely a European has been brought in and the former relegated back to the assistant role.
That said, congratulations to both Rwasamanzi and APR upon winning the first edition if the ‘AS Kigali Pre-season Tournament’, which the organizers say, will be changed to ‘Intern-Cities Trophy’ effective next year.