Kiyovu are in race to challenge for league title – Casa Mbungo

Azam Rwanda Premier League leaders SC Kiyovu, who have won five of in seven games, including the last four in a row, are in the race to challenge for the title, according to head coach Andre Casa Mbungo.
Moustapha Francis wheels away in celebration after scoring against APR  in the 1-0 win for Kiyovu on match-day 4. Mbungo's team host Marines seeking to make it five wins in a row. ....
Moustapha Francis wheels away in celebration after scoring against APR in the 1-0 win for Kiyovu on match-day 4. Mbungo's team host Marines seeking to make it five wins in a row. ....

SC Kiyovu vs Marines 3:30pm

APR FC vs Mukura VS
Miroplast vs Amagaju
Bugesera vs Sunrise
Kirehe FC vs Espoir FC
Gicumbi vs Police FC
AS Kigali vs Etincelles

Former AS Kigali, Police and Sunrise FC tactician made the declaration as he prepares his team for Saturday’s clash with eleventh-placed Marines FC at Mumena Stadium in Nyamirambo, kick-off at 3:30pm.

Mbungo’s in-form team continued their impressive start to the season after beating ten-man Sunrise FC 1-0 at Nyagatare ground in midweek to leapfrog APR FC at the top of the 16-team standing.

Andre Casa Mbungo.

SC Kiyovu were relegated to the second tier last season but were handed a second chance after promoted Isonga FC withdrew from competing in the topflight league.

In a bid to avoid the struggles of last season, Kiyovu moved fast to appoint Mbungo as head coach and their faith in one of the best tacticians in Rwandan football is starting to pay off as the club flies high even though it may be still too early to start talking about winning the league.

Mbungo acknowledges that indeed it’s early but, “The longer we stay at the top, the more belief the players will start to feel that they can actually do it. My only worry is the squad depth.”

Asked if he really that Kiyovu can challenge for the league title against the likes of APR and reigning champions Rayon Sports, or the current fine form is just a bubble waiting to burst any time, Mbungo said, “Well, we’re top and we know it’s still too early, so we must prepare game par game but the ultimate goal is to win the league.”

“They (referring to APR and Rayon Sports) both have better strength in squad depth but if by January we’re still at the top or around there, then we shall be in a good position to add to our squad with quality players,” he explained.

The Mumena-based club are the team everyone is talking about and rightly so, thanks to five wins and two defeats from the first seven matches, giving them 15 points, one ahead of second-placed APR FC, and a further four better than Police FC in fourth place, although the later have played a game less.

Mbungo believes his in-form side, led by skipper Fabrice Kakule Mugheni, can make it five wins on the bounce with victory against Marines on home turf Mumena where fans are expected to come in big numbers to be part of history-making team since not many of them have ever celebrated four wins in a row.

Kiyovu, a team that many had predicted to struggle in mid-table or hover just above the relegation zone, started the season with a 1-0 win over Musanze FC and when they lost two in a row, 1-2 against Rayon Sports and 1-0 at the hands of newcomers Miroplast FC, panic nearly set in but Mbungo stayed calm.

With Kiyovu’s squad deficiencies, fans feared for the worst but instead Mbungo used his experience to rally his youthful troops, and his faith in the same set of players that lost two in a row, has been rewarded with four consecutive wins.

SC Kiyovu lack a quality forward, who can guarantee between 15-20 goals a season and this could be their Achilles heel in the title race that is expected to be tighter than it looks after seven rounds of matches.

Four of their five victories come by way of 1-0 margins—since beating APR FC 1-0 on matchday four, SC Kiyovu have gone on to win 1-0 against Gicumbi FC, 2-0 over Espoir before the 1-0 success against Sunrise FC in Nyagatare in the last outing.

Marines head coach Yves Rwasamanzi.

They are the lowest scoring team in the top four, having managed just seven in seven matches, an average of a goal per game as compared to

Looking ahead to Saturday’s game with Marines, who are fresh from a 1-4 home defeat against third-placed AS Kigali on Wednesday, Mbungo said, “We just need to continue working hard as we have done since the start of the season.”

“Because if we don’t win and APR win their match (against Mukura), then we drop to second, so for us the stakes in this game are quite high,” he noted.

The league leaders will be without three first team starters, they include; defender Aime Placide Uwineza (injury), attacking midfielder Mustapha Francis (injury) and striker Jean Claude Nizeyimana, who scored in the win against Sunrise FC in mid-week—he has two yellow cards.

His counterpart of Marines FC, Yves Rwasamanzi, who will be up against a team he coached not so long ago, said, “It’s going to be a tough game, no doubt about it, and we know we have to be well-prepared because Kiyovu are doing well at the moment.”

“It will be interesting to be back to my former team, they are in-form and playing in-front of their fans but we have not come to Kigali to be fans of Kiyovu, we’ll go into the match to win,” he noted.

Rwasamanzi revealed that he has no injury worries in his team, which will le be led by their top scorer Benjamin Tuyishime, who has found the back of the opposition net three time, one less than league top scorer Isaie Songa of Police FC and AS Kigali’s Jean Claude Ndarusanze.

All the rest of their fixtures will be played on Sunday before the league is called off to allow the national team, ‘Amavubi’ prepare for the upcoming CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup set for December 3-17 in Kenya.

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