Rayon Sports 1-1 Lydia Academic
RAYON SPORTS head coach Olivier Karekezi has issued a rallying call to his players to harness their finishing skills if the Rwandan league champions are to improve their chances of going past the preliminary round of CAF Champions.
Rayon were held 1-1 by Burundi’s Lydia Ludic Académic in the first leg of the champions league preliminary round at Amahoro National Stadium in Kigali on Saturday.
Substitute Jamali Bazunza gave the visitors the lead on the 75th minute after a swift counterattack before Hussein ‘Tchabalala’ Shaban equalised for the blues from a rebound from fellow forward Shassir Nahimana nine minutes later.
“I am neither happy nor sad because we have not won but we’ve not lost either,” Karekezi said after the match. “They (Lydia Ludic) are a good side but we are looking forward to put up better performance in the return leg two weeks from now.”
Asked about his opinion on Rayon’s struggles with finishing, the head coach said: “We still need to work hard to improve our finishing skills because when you don’t score, you’re never going to win anything—that is our biggest problem at the moment, the strikers know that they need to improve on their finishing if we’re going to progress to the next round,” he added.
Center back Thierry Manzi, Hussein ‘Tchabalala’ Shaban, Nahimana and Djabel Manishimwe had several opportunities but they were denied by Lydia Ludic Académic goalkeeper Fabien Mutombo.
The return leg is due February 21 in the Burundian capital of Bujumbura.
Rayon Sports will need a win in that match or a draw of at least two goals to reach to next stage.
Whoever emerges victorious over the two-leg tie will face Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa in the next round.
Last year, Rayon Sports were eliminated in the third round of CAF Confederation Cup.
In the three occasions that Rwandan sides have drawn Burundian opponents in continental football, the former have managed to progress to the next stage only once.
Burundian sides Vital’O and LLB have previously eliminated APR FC and Police FC respectively, while AS Kigali eliminated Academie Tchite of Burundi.