After seeing his team beat Police 2-0, Atraco coach praised his players, admitting that it’s too early to think of the title.He compared the league campaign to a marathon race then declared, “When you’re champion, everyone wants to beat you”.
Calm and without a smile on his face, something unusual for someone who had steered his team to a third consecutive win in as many league games, Sam Timbe said, “It was a tough match that’s why I, above all, congratulate my players for the performance they put on in making sure we win today.”
It was Timbe’s third game in charge and his third win since taking over the reign as Atraco coach, replacing Jean Marie Ntagwabira who resigned barely two months after guiding them to last year’s league title.
After three rounds of matches, the champions have already created a two-point gap between themselves and the closest challenger APR. The other title hopeful, Rayon Sports are four points off the pace.
“When you are the champion, every team gives 100 per cent against you. They all want to beat you therefore, it’s upon you to deal with it in the best way possible,” he noted.
But Timbe is no mood to start getting carried away because as he said, “The league is like marathon”.
“In a league, just like in marathon, you can never get excided because you’re leading at the very start because you have too much distance to cover to be champions,” stressed the former SC. Villa and Uganda Police Fc coach.
His league-marathon link was in response to the subject about whether, after three back-to-back wins, he see his team as favourites to retain the league, give the fat that the other contenders, APR and Rayon have already dropped points.
He added, “It’s too early to start taking about the title. We’ve only played three matches. I don’t want talk about other teams, my focus is my team.”
Striker Jean Lomami’s second half cool finish helped the champions roll over an elastic Police side on a muddy Camp Kigali ground.
Timbe’s league leaders prevailed over Police to maintain their 100 per cent record in the new season that has also seen them steamroll new boys La Jeunesse 6- 1 and struggling Kiyovu 2-0.
Lomami was the beneficiary one helpful cleaver play by his young sibling Andre as he netted his fifth goals of the season.
But there was no doubting how Casabongo and his Police players would rue the fact that Lomamni’s goals came just six minutes after substitute Roger Tuyisenge had wasted a glorious opportunity to put his team level from eight yards with no keeper in site.
Joseph Kabagambe’s first goal from a direct corner kick in his second appearance of the season set Atraco on a tightly contested win against a Casabongo’s side that fought for every ball across the field.
International break didn’t help
Despite the deserved win, Timbe insisted he would be happy just to have his big players, who’ve just returned from international duty last weekend back to the fitness level he wants to his players to be.
He said: “If we could have our best players who were on international duty back to full fitness, we will have few problems.”
Midfielder Michael Sebalinga and Johnson Bagoole were in the Uganda Cranes squad that beat Benin 2-1 in Kampala last weekend in the 2010 WC/Africa qualifier.
Unfortunately, they never qualified to the next round because Angola came from behind to win 3-1 at home to Niger.
“Sebalinga played well in the first half but in the second, he looked tired and as for Bagoole, the way he played today is not his usual game. When he’s fully fit, he can play much better.”
Lomami loses it
Yet as Timbe hopes to have his two international players back to their best shape in time for his team’s next game against Electrogaz at the weekend, he’ll have to make adjustments to his plans as he’ll be without his main striker Lomami who saw red against Police.
In a thinly veiled criticism of his top scorer, Timbe said, “When you get two yellow cards in a game, that’s red and Lomami knew he had already been booked but failed to control himself.”
“His absence is a big loss not only for me as a coach for the whole team, none the less we shall have to get someone to play his position.”
Rivals left chasing
APR, chasing a record tenth title were held to a 1-1 draw by Kibuye despite taking a first minute lead through Rwandan international Labama Bokota, who netted his third goal in as many matches. Emmanuel Kayumba netted Kibuye’s equalizer to two minutes later.
The nine-time champions are level on seven points with Electrogaz and Marines, who beat La Jeunesse 2-1 and Amagaju 2-1 respectively.
Raoul Shungu had Abdul Uwimana to thank for rescuing his job, which was on line after the midfielder scored a last minute winner to complete a 2-1 comeback against AS-Kigali.
AS-Kigali led at half time through Papi Gasana goal but Rwandan U-17 international Jamal Mwiseneza, who replaced Jimmy Gatete, leveled things minutes of his introduction before Amavubi Stars midfielder Uwimana killed off the contest in the last minute.
The win moved the blues fifth on the table with five points, two behind APR, Electrogaz and Marines going going into next weekend’s clash against archrivals APR at Amahoro stadium.
Amagaju in early trouble
Newly promoted Amagaju Fc are looking the most likely favourites candidates for relegation dogfight after losing all three league matches.
The Southern Province outfit lost 3-0 to APR in their first topflight fixture, 2-0 to Electrogaz, 2-1 against Marines and you wonder their first win is coming from especially you consider the fact that they play Mukura, Rayon and Atraco in their next three matches.
J. Lomami 5(gls) Atraco
Labama Bokota 3 APR