Rayon Sports demons are back!

They say ‘Old habits die hard’ and indeed Rayon Sports are back at it again almost full circle but hopefully, this time, their ill-advised decisions won’t come back to haunt them at the end of what has been a relatively incident-free campaign, even at Rayon Sports standards.
Masudi is the pillar holding Rayon Sports together. S. Ngendahimana
Masudi is the pillar holding Rayon Sports together. S. Ngendahimana

They say ‘Old habits die hard’ and indeed Rayon Sports are back at it again almost full circle but hopefully, this time, their ill-advised decisions won’t come back to haunt them at the end of what has been a relatively incident-free campaign, even at Rayon Sports standards.

Suspending head coach Djuma Masudi was a dumb decision and by far the worst under the current administration led by Denis Gacinya. Why do Rayon Sports like doing things the hard way!

 

How can a club, on track to win the league and perhaps even retain the Peace Cup, suspend their coach just because he didn’t attend club meetings without informing his bosses? And that he also makes ‘unilateral’ decisions regarding team selection!

 

What is wrong with a coach making unilateral decisions sometimes, regarding the first team, for which, he is paid to do?

 

Ideally, that is why he is the head coach and in any case, why not let him make these decisions and if they don’t work, he normally gives and answers and more often than not, he pays the heaviest price (read sacking).

While confirming Masudi’s suspension, Rayon Sports secretary general, Olivier Gakwaya, said, “He has been suspended for a week because of how he has been handling himself on several occasions, which we believe contributed to the result we got in the Confederation Cup.”

He noted that Masudi ‘let down’ the team because he did not seem to act as had been agreed in several meetings in line with the Confederation Cup. “He skipped several of those meetings and did not give out explanations”.

“He has not been working smoothly with staff, always making unilateral decisions, yes as head coach you can but you have to listen to your staff as well, so it has been a series of incidents of misconduct and we have decided to give him one week so he can reflect,” Gakwaya told this publication on Tuesday.

Whether its demons that hit this club, as one my colleagues suggested when news of Masudi’s suspension broke, a curse or simply self-inflicted mess, for Rayon Sports it doesn’t matter, for them, no matter, who is in charge, they all tend to press the self-destruction button.

In December, I wrote in these pages that Masudi is the pillar holding Rayon Sports together and that if they are to pose a serious challenge for APR FC’s dominance of Rwandan football not just this season but for many years, they need to hold onto him at any cost.

Masudi is an ex-player and club captain, he’s qualified and knows Rwandan football almost inside-out, he is affordable compared to foreign coaches, who can’t even do the job that he has done in short space of time, and most importantly, the fans like him because he’s delivering joy.

Back then I pointed out that Gacinya and his management must do everything within their means to make sure the players and coaches’ salaries are paid on time, but most importantly, give Masudi the support he needs to work in a happy environment because he is the screw holding the club together.

The former Rayon Sports captain is the link between the team and the fans—he’s a fans’ favourite and to treat him in the manner as the club did with his suspension, it leads people to questions as to whether Rwanda’s most popular club has a clear vision. Similar mistakes season after season!

The former Burundian forward returned to Rayon Sports in November 2015 in the capacity of assistant coach under Belgian tactician Ivan Minneart, who ended his ties with the club in February 2016 to join Kenyan side AFC Leopards.

Six months later, Masudi, 39, was appointed head coach on a three-year contract after guiding Rayon Sports to the Peace Cup glory for a record 9th time, as an interim coach.

He was voted Coach of the Year for the 2015/16 season, piping APR FC’s Tunisian coach Nizar Khanfir and Etincelles’ Innocent Seninga (now at Police FC) to the accolade.

In no terms whatsoever am I condoning any form of indiscipline by either the coach or players, whether at Rayon Sports or anywhere else, but certain things are better off being handled internally than laid out bare in public.

Rayon Sports management could or should have found a mechanism to deal with the fallout with Masudi internally without necessarily suspending him and letting loose their dirty linen in the media.

Gakwaya said the suspension is only for a week to allow Masudi to ‘reflect’ but what guarantee is there that the coach will be as motivated, with the same drive to lead the club to accomplish the mission in the final stretch.

However, an unhappy and frustrated Masudi can only have a negative effect on the whole team and that can affect the players psychologically, which could lead to a drop in terms of performance.

The good thing is that the gap between them and the chasing pack, which is led by reigning champions APR FC, is significant enough for them to hold on in the remaining matches.

If indeed Masudi is not as good as we, on the outside, seem to look at him, and yes, even when he’s so bad that he has to be brought back in line, then, maybe we can give the club the benefit of doubt—but the reasons must also have be beyond what we’ve been given by Mr. Gakwaya.

Masudi seems to have the backing of majority of both his technical staff and playing staff, and if we go by the opinion of his assistant Maurice Nshimiyimana, who came out in defense of his colleague a day after his suspension, which appeared to be in total contrast of the club’s position.

Masudi, who has not commented, at least publically, about his suspension, expected to return to work on Monday, but whether he comes back as scheduled, is another matter altogether—remember, we don’t know if his return has conditions attached to it, for either side.

Over to you, Masudi!

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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