IF none of Rwanda’s three representatives in this year’s Cecaf/Kagame Cup club championships fails to win the title on home soil, we should stop talking about how good our clubs are.
This is the biggest test for APR, Atraco and Rayon Sports. Why do I say so when this is just a regional tournament and we very well know, and we all realize the fact that our region has never been a place for the best teams or players on the African continent?
For one of the three local clubs to go all the way to big prize, they will first beat not only the cream of the region but also two of Africa top clubs in TP Mazembe of the DR Congo and Nigeria’s Heartland Fc, who are participating as guest teams.
African champions, TP Mazembe are no strangers to Rwandan football having eliminated APR from the African Champions League, while Heartland are one of Nigeria’s top clubs and the fact that all but one of the competing teams know anything about them, watch out (for them).
Inevitably all eyes will be on APR as the team to beat, so this puts them in everyone’s target range hence enormous pressure to perform to their best in every game, which is surely going to take a toll on the players mentally and physically.
Them (APR) and TP Mazembe have one or two scores to settle and both having been pitted together in group A, we should expect at least a ‘final’ before the final when the two sides meet in their group stage match. Burundi’s Vital’O and Telcom of Djibouti complete the group.
Defending champions, Atraco are looking like a shadow of a team that won the tournament in Khartoum last year and only missed out on an historic double on the last day of national league season.
And with APR all but assured of winning the Primus National League, Atraco can only look at retaining the Kagame Cup and or the MTN Peace Cup for any hope of winning some silverware this season.
However, with a lot of uncertainty surrounding the taxi-men club, especially off the field, which inevitably flows through into the team, you can only give them an outside chance of going beyond the semifinal.
Sam Timbe’s side is in what is possibly the group of ‘death’, which includes the national champios of Kenya (Sofapak), Tanzania (SC Simba) and Uganda Revenue Authority.
Rwanda’s third representatives, Rayon Sport too won’t have it any easy as, to even reach the knockout stage; they will first to stand and later pass the test of Heartland, St. George and Zanzibar’s Mafunzo.
On paper, the Blues are the weakest of three local teams but they can use that to their advantage, coupled with the backing of their vocal supporters to surprise quite a few critics. But this is easier said than done so we will have to wait and see whether Emmanuel Ruremesha has the knack to achieve that.
On as an interim coach until the end of the season, Ruremesha could be the obvious choice to take the job on a permanent basis but only if he guides Rwanda’s most supported club to the biggest prize.
This year’s tournament promises to be one of the most exciting in the history of the region’s club championship but it will only be memorable if the trophy stays in the country rather than a share of the winners’ prize money, which ironically is provided by Rwanda’s leader, President Paul Kagame. What do you think?