The writing is on the wall for Pepiniere FC. The club cannot survive relegation to the second division with just four games left for the National Football League to end.
Even the club head coach Jean Paul Umuhoza seems to be coming to terms with this reality as Pepiniere trail at the bottom of the league with nine points. The Ruyenzi-based side has toyed with relegation over the past five months, after failing to get results to secure their top-flight status.
An immediate return to the second tier division was further made evident with a 0-1 home defeat to Marines FC on Sunday – it was Pepiniere FC’s 18th defeat in 26 league matches in a season that has highlighted the deficiencies of last season’s second division champions.
They have scored the fewest goals in the league this season (15) and they have managed only 12 points from two wins and six draws.
With only four matches left to the end of the national league season, Umuhoza is worried relegation is inevitable.
Last month, Umuhoza, who took the team to the top-flight division for the first time in their history, admitted that they need a miracle to survive relegation.
But now not even a miracle can save his side, with four matches remaining. “Right now, it’s too late, the club brought in a few experienced players to help the club escape relegation, but the performance has not improved,” he said.
In their last five matches, Pepiniere has drawn twice and lost four games. The last victory was the 2-1 home triumph against Etincelles FC in March.
Unexpectedly, Umuhoza, who took the club to the first division, has refused to blame the players for the club’s short stay in the top tier league.
“It is the first time for most of them to play at this level; they are giving all their best. We still have four matches left but I doubt if anything can change,” Umuhoza acknowledged.
Their next fixture will be against table leaders and run away champions Rayon Sports on May 19 at Ruyenzi stadium before playing Bugesera FC (away). They will then host Amagaju FC and crown off the season away against fellow strugglers Gicumbi FC.
Umuhoza took over as head coach in late January following the resignation of Jean Baptiste Kayiranga and has gone on to preside over the team’s two wins. Former Rayon Sports coach Kayiranga left Pepiniere when it was struggling at the bottom with five points.