•Atraco coach is a win away from making history
He is not the most common coach in Rwandan football, you actually can not mention him in the same breadth with the likes of Raoul Shungu, Jean Baptists Kayiranga, Jean Marie Ntagwabira, Branko Tucak or even Eric Paske, but Sam Timbe is what you would be tempted to refer to as the ‘silent assassin’.
Because of his laid-back sort of lifestyle, fans, rivals teams and even journalists have failed to create a clear-cut relation with the Ugandan coach, something that has in a way played the Joker Card in his favour.
Only in his debut season, Timbe is odds on to retain the national league with Atraco, and as if that is not big enough an amazing achievement, he’s also just one win away from making history as the first man to win three Cecafa/Kagame Cup Club Championships with three different clubs in a space of just five years!
The soft spoken ex-Ugandan international has the opportunity this Sunday (today) evening to achieve what no other man or woman has managed, when Atraco take on El Merreikh in the final of Cecafa/Kagame Cup 2009.
Atraco’s record against Sudanese champions in their last three meetings has yielded just one and two defeats for the Rwandan champions, who were beaten 6-1 in the group game of this particular tournament. Both sides were in Group B.
El Merreikh eliminated Atraco from this year’s MTN Champions League at the first round stage and with home advantage, and playing on their home turf, they might just be too hard a nut to crack.
But football, being the beautiful game it is, is so unpredictable and in circumstances similar to how Atraco managed to get this far, given that they lost their opening two fixtures and only qualified for the quarterfinals as one of the two best third placed teams.
When Atraco lost 6-1 in the opening game (ironically against today’s opponent, El Merreikh) and again lost 2-1 to Mathare United, very few gave them the chance to go past the group stage, but they managed to sneak through thanks to a 5-0 mauling of Kartileh Fc. That has been the story of Timbe almost throughout his coaching career. His ability to get something out of almost nothing, scrapping results from seemingly lost causes.
He won his first regional club title Ugandan side SC Villa in 2005 and followed that with another triumph with yet another Ugandan outfit, Police Fc in 2006, and here he is, faced with yet another opportunity to win it for the third time with Atraco.
Timbe takes his side in today’s final, just like in the semi-final against Mathare United, with something to prove, or some sort of revenge on the back of his mind—he succeeded against the Kenyan side but unlike against Mathare, today, the challenge is a lot tougher and trickier.
Yet with Timbe, a man who prefers to let actions to the talking for him than words, you can never rule out anything just as he proved it against his compatriots, KCC in the quarterfinal.
The Ugandan champions went into that encounter as favourites but guess what, Timbe masterminded an emphatic 4-0, a result that proved why he has won two Ugandan league titles, two Kagame Cup trophies with two different clubs and is just a couple of wins to add to that collection.
With the regional title aside, Timbe and his Atraco side have the national league title firmly in their grip—they lead the table standing with 47 point, two better than their closest challenger, APR in second position with only two rounds of matches remaining.
The champions still have to play Mukura away in Huye and Marines in Kigali, while nine-time champions, APR have Electrogaz in Kigali and Mukura in Huye, matches, both are expected to collect maximum points from, which means if it stays like that, Atraco will be champions for the second year running.
And they are still in the Amahoro Cup, so a treble for Timbe and Co., is still very much within touching distance, and if he manages to achieve that, he’ll not only become one of the most successful coaches in the regions but he’ll also get to be in the limelight a lot more—but being the Timbe, he is, he might choose to remain the silent assassin, he prefers to be. Who’d blame him?