Rayon Sport seems to have probably lost their CAF Confederation Cup tie against El Merreikh even before it’s played. The team was still stranded last evening at Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta international Airport awaiting clearance from the Sudan’s Immigration department.
Rayon left Kigali in the early hours of yesterday morning and was expected in the Sudanese capital before midday Rwandan time.
However by press time last evening the Kenya Airways hadn’t received the team’s entry visas.
According to the local football governing body, Ferwafa the entry visas to Sudan, were supposed to have been delivered by the Sudanese’s football federation to Kenya Airways in order to let the team proceed to Khartoum.
However according to Sudanese national broadcaster’s last night announcement Rayon Sport will be arriving in Khartoum abroad a Egypt Air flight.
The Blues had initially been scheduled to fly out on Tuesday ahead of today’s game but a break down in communication between the club officials and the sports ministry led to a mix up in flight bookings. Rayon vice president Said Habiyakare placed the blame the Ministry of Sport, which he said failed to pay in time leading to the initial flight cancellation.
"We were expected to travel but there were delays in purchasing air tickets, something that forced Kenya Airways to exclude us on their list," Habiyakare said.
According to Ferwafa boss Brig. Gen. John Bosco Kazura, Rayon had initially been booked to travel on Tuesday with Kenya Airways flight but afterwards Rayon vice president (Habiyakare) went ahead and booked another flight for Wednesday without consulting neither the Ministry or Ferwafa something that led to so much confusion at the travel agency (Satguru), which was handling the booking. Rayon qualified for the next round after eliminating Ethiopian side Harar Beer 5-4 on penalties. Both teams were 2-2 on goals aggregate after the two legs.
The second round, first leg fixture is scheduled to be played today in the Sudan capital Khartoum yet Rayon have been caught between a rock and a hard place as far as their travel arrangements are concerned.
However according to a source in Khartoum, the flight from Nairobi to Khartoum touches down at 8’o’clock Sudanese time meaning that Rayon may face the dreaded act of disembarking from the plane on to the playing field immediately.
Rayon Sport are hoping for a positive result in their second round, first leg tie of the African Confederation Cup against Sudan’s El Merreikh at their Red Castle stadium in Khartoum this afternoon.
But before departure, head coach Raoul Shungu was unsurprisingly full of doubtful about his fatigued team’s chances of posting a good result against last year’s losing finalists "Traveling over 2000km one day ahead of the fixture is not fair. The players will definitely be fatigued and won’t have enough time to acclimatize to the weather conditions.
"I fear for my players not playing as well as they would do in normal conditions, that’s a fact but there is nothing I can do about it," Shungu admitted.
The DR Congo born trainer will go with his usual 4-4-2 as he tries to look for an away goal.
"We must be disciplined and not concede too many goals," Shungu said on Thursday before the team’s departure yesterday morning.
Shungu traveled without key striker Labama Bokoto who was dropped from the squad on disciplinary grounds and will have rely on Jimmy Gatete and Jean Lomami in search for goals with Kase Kalisa and Jimmy Kidega commanding the midfield.
As for El Merreikh, losing at home is not an option after they signed all the best players in their country as the try to do better than they did last year where they lost in the final to Tunisia’s CS Sfaxien.
El Merreikh vs Rayon, probable starting teams:
El Merreikh-M. Kamal, M. Alkhidir, S. Attiya, M. Alzouma, B. Gabir, P.Roberto,A. Obinna, N.Alshigail, H.Tambal, A. Zahra and F. Agab.
Rayon- L. Webo, O. Uwingabire, M. Yossam, B. Hategikimana, O. Shaka, M. Kidega, K. Kase, A. Hategikimana, J. Gatete, J. Lomami, R. Tuyisenge.