IN news that will surprise not only APR faithful but the entire local football fraternity, record 16-time league champions APR FC have demoted head coach Jimmy Mulisa after reappointing Serbian coach Ljubomir ‘Ljupko’ Petrovic as the club’s new principle coach.
A reliable source confirmed to Times Sport yesterday that Petrovic, 70 has been offered a two-year renewable contract; he will be assisted by another Serbian coach Radanavic Miodrag.
However, Mulisa, Didier Bizimana and academy coach Emmanuel Rubona, “will continue to work under Petrovic as the club wants them to learn from his vast experience.”
“We have a new head coach, who will work with the technical committee to help the club realize its dream. He has been tasked to help the club to do better particularly at the continental level on top of winning the national league and Peace Cup,” the source, who didn’t want to be named, revealed.
Under Mulisa, APR won the Peace Cup last season and they are currently in third place in the Azam Rwanda Premier League with 21 points, three behind leaders SC Kiyovu after 12 rounds of matches.
It is Petrovic’s second spell as APR coach, having worked at the army side from 2014-2015 before resigning citing ‘unfulfilled promises.’
By the time he left APR was on top of the national football league table with 35 points, seven ahead of second-place AS Kigali and he was replaced by his assistant coach Dusan ‘Duje’ Suljagic, who went on to guide the club to the league title.
Petrovic, who won the Uefa Champions League with Red Star Belgrade in 1991, guided APR to the final of the 2014 CECAFA Kagame Cup Club Championship and also won the Prudence Cup after defeating Police FC 2-1.
A former Yugoslavian football player, Petrovic is an icon in the Yugoslavian (today Serbia) and European football history.
As a manager, he has led well known teams from former Yugoslavia such as: NK Osijek Osijek, FK Spartak Subotica, FK Rad Belgrade, FK Vojvodina Novi Sad, and Red Star Belgrade that he helped lift the 1991 European Cup.
He has also been involved in football management throughout Europe and elsewhere with Spanish league team RCD Espanyol, Uruguayan team C.A. Penarol, Austrian team Grazer AK and Chinese teams Shanghai Shenhua and Beijing Guoan.
Rayon turn to Mineart
Meanwhile, the APR arch-rivals Rayon Sports have also turned to their former coach Ivan Mineart to replace Olivier Karekezi, who left his job under mysterious circumstances early this week.
Belgian Mineart has been given six matches to earn the job permanently, according to the club secretary general, Bernard Itangishaka.
“Yes, I can confirm that Mineart has started the interim job, and his task is to win the remaining three league matches in first half and Peace Cup as well the CAF Champions League tie against Mamelodi Sundown,” Itangishaka told Times Sport.