Clash of titans

Rwandan football archrivals APR and Rayon Sport meet in the Primus National League on Saturday at Amahoro Stadium in a match that many feel is more significant than most clashes in recent years as both teams seek to extend the title chase.
APR's Jean Baptist Mugiraneza battles with Rayon Sport midfielder Fuadi Ndayisenga in the first round match at Amahoro Stadium, which ended 2-2. Saturday Sport/ T. Kisambira.
APR's Jean Baptist Mugiraneza battles with Rayon Sport midfielder Fuadi Ndayisenga in the first round match at Amahoro Stadium, which ended 2-2. Saturday Sport/ T. Kisambira.

Today
APR         vs         Rayon
Police             vs         Isonga
Mukura         vs         Kiyovu
Marines         vs         Etincelles

Sunday
La Jeunesse     vs     AS Muhanga
AS Kigali     vs     Musanze
Amagaju     vs     Espoir

Rwandan football archrivals APR and Rayon Sport meet in the Primus National League on Saturday at Amahoro Stadium in a match that many feel is more significant than most clashes in recent years as both teams seek to extend the title chase.

There is no love lost between Rwanda’s two biggest teams and for the obvious reasons, there is a big rivalry between the two clubs, and the fans in either camp seem to enjoy every bit of it.

The corresponding fixture last season ended in a 2-all draw last December when APR came from 2-0 down to snatch a point.

With eight rounds of matches left on the season, Rayon Sport lead the table with 38 points, having won 12, drawn twice and lost four, while defending champions APR are third on 32 points from eight wins eight draws and two losses.

Rayon will go in today’s crucial clash in-form however, APR has been the better side in recent history winning most of the encounters between the two, but even with their new youth policy of using only Rwandan young players, other teams have started to gain ground on them.

APR thumped Rayon 3-1 last December to lift the Rwanda Patriotic Front’s 25th anniversary tournament trophy.

APR coach Eric Nshimiyimana, who has injury concerns in the defensive duo of Michelle Rusheshangoga and Emery Bayisenge and striker Farouk Ruhinda, believe his side can maintain their grip against their biggest rival, who they trail by six points.

 “We are six points behind Rayon Sport but I hope we can close the gap to three points with a win on Saturday, everyone is motivated to win and I believe we have the ability to achieve it,” he told Saturday Sport.

 “Our focus is not only to win against Rayon and close the gap on them, but also to perform well in all remaining matches,” added Nshimiyimana, who is in his first season as APR coach.

His counterpart of Rayon, French coach Didier Gomes da Rosa said yesterday, “For us, all the remaining games are very crucial and we need to be focused. We will need to treat all the matches as a cup final match if we want to win the title.”

Gomes could be without midfielder Djamal Mwiseneza and Karim McKenzie Nizigiyimana, both injured. He will rely on his seven-goal Burundian striker Cedric Hamissi, who has hit the ground running since his arrival at Rayon in January.

APR, who have not led the league all season, need to win their remaining eight matches and hope that Rayon drop a couple of valuable points between now and end of the season.

Whereas APR are seeking to win a record extending 14th Rwandan league title, Rayon are searching for their seventh title and the first since 2004, and the outcome of Saturday’s game would go a long way to determine the destiny of the title.

Elsewhere, another title contender, second-placed Police FC, who are one point behind the leaders, take on struggling Isonga FC hoping to win and pray that Rayon and APR draw so as to go on top of the table.

Probable Line-ups:

Rayon Sport: Gerard Bikorimana, Karim Nizigiyimana, Iddi Nshimiyimana, Faustin Usengimana, Abouba Sibomana, Johnson Bagoole, Aphrodis Hategekimana, Jamal Mwiseneza, Fuadi Ndayisenga, Cedric Amissi, Pappy Kamanzi.

APR FC: Jean Claude Ndoli, Hamdan Bariyanga, Heritier Turatsinze, Ismail Nshutiyamagara, Albert Ngabo, Jean Baptist Mugiraneza, Tumaine Ntamuhange, Jean Claude Iranzi, Hegman Ngomirakiza, Jacques Cyubahiro, Bernabe Mubumbyi.

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