AC Leopards Dolisie vs Rayon Sports
RAYON SPORTS will have to negotiate the early stages of the Champions League without the services of their newly signed central defender Jimmy Mukubya.
The champions will be playing in the continent’s top league for the first time in more than eight years on Sunday – away to Republic of Congo’s AC Leopards Dolisie, at Stade Denis Sassou Nguesso Dolisie.
But the Ugandan defender, signed only last month from SC Villa, will be eligible to play for his new club in the 1/8 round should they reach that stage, according to club secretary general Olivier Gakwaya.
“He will not be allowed to play in the preliminary stages until we have reached the 1/8th round. That’s because he’s not on the list of players we submitted to Caf (Confederation of African Football),” he explained. “We forwarded the list before we signed him”.
He added: “But he may feature once we qualify for the 1/8th round.”
Either Iddi Nshimiyimana or Arafat Serugendo will be Mukubya’s replacement.
Whoever new head coach Luc Eymael will entrust with the role will be required to partner with Hussein Sibomana in the heart of Rayon’s defence.
Gakwaya said the team is in good spirits ahead of the Sunday clash.
The only hitch we have experienced, he said, is the fact that our fans need to travel to Kinshasa to apply for Visas which is difficult at this time.
“We have been informed that visas are no longer being issued at the (Congolese) airport, thus they will be processed in DR Congo. We have requested our embassy in Kinshasa to facilitate the process for the squad so we can travel to Brazzaville in time.”
He added: “It’s tricky for the fans but we have no option, every interested supporter will have to head to Kinshasa to look for a visa and then cross to Brazzaville.”
The Blues who have been training twice a day are expected to head to Brazzaville on Thursday afternoon aboard a RwandAir flight.
After arriving in the Congolese capital, they will then immediately embark on a grueling a 289km journey to Dolisie in Niari Province where the game will be played.
AC Leopards Dolisie have lately been conducting their training sessions from South Africa under the tutelage of Belgian coach Patrick Aussems.
The 2012 Confederation Cup winners have signed recently three players in Nigerian winger Muhamane Cisse from AC Djoliba Bamako, central midfielder Romaric Lignanzi from FC Sapins de Libreville (Gabon) and Moise Nkounkou from l’Etoile du Congo.
The match will be head coach Eymael’s first continental assignment with the Blues after seeing his spell with the champions off to a flying start following a 4-2 victory against AS Muhanga in domestic league .
The result returned the Nyanza-based outfit back to the summit of the league after 16 rounds of matches, with 37 points, alongside archrivals APR, but with a superior goal difference – 20 against 18.
Since 1998, Rayon Sport have made five appearances in the CAF Champions league, the last being in 2008 when they played in CAF Confederation Cup and lost to Harar Beer of Ethiopia in the second round.
Should Rayon overcome the tricky Congolese side, they will face the winner between 1ero Agosto of Angola and Lioli from Lesotho in the next round.
The return matches will be played between February 28 and March 9, while the final qualifying-round matches are slated for March 21-30.