Following the relegation of one of Rwanda’s oldest clubs SC Kiyovu for the first time in the club’s 53-year history, a debate has opened up on what really led to the team’s demise.
Everyone has their opinion but several former Kiyovu players have admitted that financial problems were the main reason for their team’s poor performance throughout the season, which resulted in its relegation to the second tier league.
SC Kiyovu had their 53 years of top flight football league participation halted following relegation to second division league on the final day of the 2016/17 league season on Thursday at Mumena Stadium.
Former SC Kiyovu striker Ashraf ‘Kadubiri’ Munyaneza, who was sat on the bench as he witnessed the unfortunate chapter unfold, admitted that the team didn’t have the financial capacity to compete favourably with the rest of the teams in the topflight division.
Munyaneza said that, “We were under so much pressure for the last match of the season because we have young players, who cannot handle that sort pressure, but that is not the reason that led to relegation—the main cause was limited financial means.”
He added that the mentality of the players was not strong enough to save change things.
“There was a lack of experience in the team since most of the players are just young boys we get for free and they get little or no pay at all. They have not been strong enough to win even winnable matches,” he stated.
However, the SC Kiyovu legend, who is also believed to be one of the team’s biggest backers, urged everyone connected to the club not run away but instead join hands to make sure their team returns to the topflight league immediately.
SC Kiyovu, which was founded in 1964 and has been playing in the first division league since then, struggled to put together a string of good results this season as they only managed six wins, nine draws and 15 losses to finish 15th in the 16-team league table with 27 points.
The interim coach Djabir Mutarambirwa said that the team was not mature enough to handle the pressure of the last game against Rayon Sports, which they lost 1-2.
“The club didn’t have money to sign good and experienced players, so we ended up using young players—Kiyovu’s biggest problem over the years has been lack of financial capacity and you can see what happened this season (regelation) was expected. We need to learn from this and come back better prepared,” he noted.
“It is not good to be relegated but in football anything can happen. Today is Kiyovu but the other day will be another team. Let’s look to the future and make sure the team comes back next season,” added the former Kiyovu, APR and Amavubi midfielder.
Going into the final match of the season, SC Kiyovu knew only a win over champions-elect Rayon Sports would give them any hopes of staying in the national league, but they also had to pray that Gicumbi FC, who were a point above them lose to the already relegated side Pepiniere.
Pepiniere did them a favour by winning 3-1 at Stade de Gicumbi yet the Green Baggies failed in their own mission.
Former SC Kiyovu skipper and striker Desire Mbonabucya reacted: “it is a bad experience for the team to get relegated but what happened to Kiyovu should be a lesson for the committee, the players and anyone else connected to the club.”
In the 53 years of playing the topflight division, SC Kiyovu won the league title thrice in 1983, 1992 and 1993. They also won the Coupe du Rwanda twice in 1975 and 1985.
Meanwhile, former Rayon Sports and Amavubi goalkeeper Eugene Murangwa said, “It’s a sad day for Rwandan football to see one of the oldest clubs being relegated to 2nd division.”
“But we hope they will be back immediately. I wish them good luck in the second division but this bad experience should be good lesson for them to put things right if they are going to avoid similar woes in future,” he noted.
SC Kiyovu spokesperson Omar Munyengabe said, “We need to build a strong foundation, but in the meantime, we’re going to analyze what happened this season and what we need to do to prepare for life in the second division because the plan is to come back stronger.”
“We are going to look for the right players with the right mentality and love to play for Kiyovu. The financial crisis has been a big problem for us and if we had money we would be signing good players and I am sure, if that was the case, we would not be here talking about relegation,” he explained.