Are we about to see a whole new APR side ready to play, like Roman Abramovich demands from his managers at Chelsea side, ‘sexy and free-flowing’ football with what is looking like a major overhaul of the entire club, from top to bottom?
It all starts with releasing 17 senior players, most of whom were in the first team throughout the last campaign, a season which to say the least, was the most successful in the club’s history on the pitch but certainly not off it.
And word has it—it is still a rumor but a real hot one, which, if proved to be true, would give the snooping journalists (yours truly inclusive) one or two hitting headlines on the back pages—that the club presidency is about to change hands.
The military side, the most successful club in history of Rwandan football, has gone through its most successful spell under the current leadership of Brig. Gen. Alex Kagame and that is in the last four or so years.
In four years, APR has won three league titles, two Cecafa/Kagame Club championships, three Amahoro Cups and has gone as far as the third round of the MTN Africa Champions League preliminary phase. But that success has not come without its fair share of controversy.
As always, the nine-time national league champions have been caught in a number of contentious moments especially with rivals clubs that usually claim the military side enjoys extra favor from the leadership at Ferwafa.
However, that will remain as contentious as it has always been. The club has spent millions of francs on new players each season (critics have described it as buying success) but that’s the nature of modern football—no money no success, although at times money can’t buy everything and so has been the case at APR until to date.
We all remember the Jean Marie Ntagwabira’s APR of early 2000s and the type of football they used to play until the club managers became over ambitious and in a bid to become a more continental side, started hiring foreign coaches and sack them months later.
Last season is when the bottle top hit the sealing with Ntagwabira being ruthlessly booted out of the club, for umpteenth time and replaced by current coach Andy Mfutila from DR Congo side St. Eloi Lupopo.
I’m not acting as his PR but Ntagwabira did a magnificent job during his different and difficult times as APR coach. That will remain a fact, there for everyone to talk about for years to come.
New coach, ugly football, same old story
When the new coach was brought in, he came with his players from his former club, this seemed to cause division in the dressing room as players found at the club felt threatened and indeed it came to be true.
Mfutila like any other coach elsewhere in the world, made sure the players he came with got more playing time than those he found at the club—no ill feelings here, but that’s how it was last season.
The APR coach seems to have a lot in common with former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho and the most distinct of all is the fact they both prefer results to style.
Only in the last season that APR played the ugliest football one would ever think of but still won matches and an unprecedented quadruple.
Football is more about wining and the more a team wins, the more it is likely to become successful, so for Mfutila, just like Mourinho (who was sacked as Chelsea manager just over two weeks ago) , it doesn’t matter how his team players for as long as they win football matches.
Despite coming under pressure from the fans and his bosses because of the sty of football APR played last season, the showy Congolese tactician, apart from the Champions League, won every trophy he competed in starting with the Primus Christmas Cup, Cecafa/Kagame Cup, Amahoro Cup and the national league.
Financiers not happy
Word has it that, much as the team swept everything last season, the club uppermost leadership (I hope you know what I’m talking about) wasn’t happy with the way things went and the style of football played left a bitter tasted in the financiers’ mouth.
And as part of a whole new APR that the bosses want to see dominate the region and possibly become a more continental side than an LDU-type (being only dominant at home) team, older and poor players have been shown the exit while new, young and possibly better one are being signed.
By releasing 17 players, all of whom were earning Frw250.000 and above will in one way or the other reduce the club’s expenses but could, on the other hand cost them trophies next season—the new players will need time to get together.
Is Brig. Gen. Kagame about to go?
The current club president, Brigadier General Alex Kagame is believed to be on his out, that is the hottest gossip going round and about in certain corridors.
This ‘rumor’ has not been confirmed (I doubt if it will ever be) and no one seems to talk about who is likely to replace him publicly.
My reliable sources inside the club circles are talking about former Ferwafa chief Major General Ceaser Kayizari and I don’t have any reason to doubt it.
Afande Kagame has been probably the club’s most successful president but like any other human being, he has had his own short-comings during his term.
Whether he’s being forced to leave or it’s out of his choice, it remains to be proved and as always, you know where to find me.