It’s never really dull in Rayon Sports and once again the reigning league champions are at it, this time being in the news for making one of the most contentious managerial appointments ever in Rwandan football.
When the club promised that they would name their new head coach at the end of this month, to replace Djuma Masudi, very little did we know that the club was planning to come up with a name that would be a bombshell to even the most ardent follower of Rwanda’s most popular football club.
Well, I don’t want to sound as though I’m against Olivier Karekezi getting a job, but for Rayon Sports to appoint the former Amavubi captain as the new head coach, is a joke of some sort.
For starters, Karekezi, now 34, is a life-long APR FC fan, a club where he started his playing career in 1998 in the junior team and was promoted to the senior team in 2002. He turned professional in 2005 after four successful years with the army side’s senior team.
Additionally, although the former international is the most qualified Rwandan, having attained a UEFA ‘A’ Coaching License in 2014, but until he proves his doubters, yours truly included, the lack of past coaching experience at this level, will always be the big elephant in the room for him.
Being one of the finest football players that the country of ‘Thousand Hills’ has ever produced, any sane-thinking Rwandan or sportsman/woman with connections to Rwanda, would love to see Karekezi succeed in his post-playing career.
However, a well-wisher wishing him well is one thing and delivering results to match the high expectations that come with being Rayon Sports’ coach is another ball game altogether, so ‘danger man’ must find a way to balance the two or else he’s falls flat on his face and few will shade a tear for him.
Karekezi’s work will be cut out even before he takes charge of his first training session, for, he’s replacing a popular man, who by all accounts, was a fans’ favourite and remains so even after he tendered in his resignation a week after leading the club to an eighth league title
Rayon Sports fans are not the most forgiving souls and Karekezi, being a known APR product and childhood supporter, will need to hit the ground running from the onset – only this way, will he have their backing, which he will definitely need if he’s to achieve anything before he’s shown the exit door.
Worse still, Karekezi, despite only having agreed to take up the job on a reported two-year contract (nothing has been signed yet), the prospect of him being in charge of APR FC’s bitterest rivals, has already started to divide opinions at the highest levels of Rayon Sports’ management hierarchy.
A day after Rayon Sports FC president Denis Gacinya announced that the deal had been agreed for the former APR forward and captain, Rayon Sports Association, under which the club operates, distanced itself from that decision, questioning Gacinya’s powers to appoint a coach without their input.
An emergency management meeting was called on Thursday and according to a source that attended it but is not allowed to speak to the media on behalf of the club, the exchanges were not so pleasant between officials of Rayon Sports Association, who are in favour of bringing back Masudi and Gacinya.
Rayon Sports Association president Vedaste Kimenyi is in favour of the club forgiving Masudi, who is reported to have apologized for announcing his resignation in the media before informing his bosses, something that angered Gacinya and Olivier Gakwaya to a point of no-return.
No consensual agreement was reached, which will only make Karekezi’s appointment more of a liability to the club than an asset, reason big that, there is no way he’s going to succeed when the club is divided.
For the Rayon Sports fans in general, no matter what Karekezi does, when he indeed takes up the job, the consensus will be that he is an APR mole being planted in to destroy their club at a time when the balance of power (read dominancy) seem to be shifting from the black to the blue side.
In support of Karekezi, who is a rookie in this business, certain things are better black and white, so regardless of whether he achieves success at Rayon in his first season as Masudi did or fails as Jimmy Mulisa has at APR, he will always be seen in the image of Rwanda’s most successful club.