Confederation Cup first leg
Al Merreikh v Rayon
Rayon Sport departs for Sudan this afternoon for their CAF Confederation Cup second round, first leg tie against Al Merreikh scheduled for Friday in Khartoum.
The 23-man squad that comprises 18 players and five officials leaves Kigali International Airport aboard a Kenya Airways flight.
Speaking to Times Sport yesterday, head coach, Raoul Shungu sounded buoyantly about his teams chances of posting a good result in the first leg against last year’s losing finalists.
"Morale in the camp is high and everyone is determined to get something out of the first leg," Shungu whose plans for the game have been boosted by the return of play-maker Kalisa Kase, stated.
The Rwandan international is traveling with the team to Sudan after missing the first round clash against Ethiopia’s Harar Beer as he out of the country.
A good result for Rayon in Khartoum, which could be a win or a draw, will increase their chances of reaching the group stages ahead of the return leg in Kigali on the weekend of April 4-6.
Rayon’s last continental show came in 2006 when the club was ejected in the second round by Egypt’s Al Ittihad Al-Iskandary 3-1 on aggregate. The Blues had earlier seen off Ethiopia’s Awassa City 4-0 on goals aggregate.
Last year, Rayon sports missed out after finishing third in the Primus national football league giving chance to Atraco to make their maiden appearance in the continental championship.
Meanwhile, Al Merreikh have strengthened their squad with new players ahead of the clash with Rayon.
The new players include; Nigerian midfielder Obinna Ako, Iraqi international duo of Saad Atia (defender) and Alaa Abd Al Zahra and Brazilian play maker Roberto Paulinho.
Sudan’s cup winners have up to 12 players from their national side took part in the CAN Ghana finals early this year. They include; Mohammed Kamal, Mohammed Ali , Musa Zuma, Badr Aldin Galag, Faisal Al Agab(c), Haytham Tambal, Alaa Al Din Babiker, Jimmy Nataly , Amir Damar, Abd Al Hamid Amara (top scorer of last year’s Cecafa Cup in Tanzania)
Reports reaching our desk indicate that the Khartoum club is worried of Rayon potent strike force of Labama Bokota, Jimmy Gatete and Jean Lomami who featured for them during the 2004/05 season.
Nasir Mohammed, a reporter with Khartoum’s Al Sahha daily sports newspaper told Times Sport in a chart from the Sudanese capital that Al Merreikh coach Kroger has tirelessly spent time working with defenders on how they can cope with the trio.
Shungu had not yet named his traveling 18 players by press time however, club Secretary General; Farouk Nduwumwe hinted that Kase and Jamal Mwiseneza are among the traveling party and our sources inside the club gave us the tentative list below.
GOALKEEPERS:L. Webo, V. Niyonkuru.
DEFENDERS:O. Uwingabire, M.Yossam, B. Hategikimana, A. Rucogoza, S. Okello, P. Gasana,
MIDFIELDERS:A. Hategikimana, A. Nyumbayire, K. Kase, J. Mwiseneza, J. Kidega, C. Pizzorella
STRIKERS:J. Gatete, L. Bokota, R. Tuyisenge and J. Lomami.
OFFICIALS: Shungu (head coach, Thierry Hitimana (assistant coach), S. Habiyakare, Patrick Itagishaka and Bernard Itagishaka (head of delegation)