Unlike the national football league, the women league and the second division, this year’s MTN Peace Cup competition was the most fascinating contest of the season.
The winners’ prize money was raised from Rwf7M to Rwf10M for the champions, Rwf7M for the beaten finalists, Rwf4M for the third place and Rwf2.5M for the fourth.
The final day produced the highlight for the competition as Atraco beat Mukura to the top prize and the third place play-off where APR taught their archrivals Rayon Sport a footballing lesson.
Mbuyu Twite, Djabir Mutarambirwa, Labama Bokota and Haruna Niyonzima were on target as the Blues saw red in a highly contested game. Jamal Mwiseneza and Marcel Lomami netted for Baptiste Kayiranga’s side, which finished without any silverware for a fourth consecutive season.
Apart from the goals, there was virtually no difference between the two rival sides as they set out to cancel out each others rhythm but none the less, the general performance on either side was worthy the occasion.
In the final game, Atraco just survived the wrath of Mukura by a slight margin. Ugandan born striker Hamis Kitagenda scored Atraco’s winner in the 4th minute to guide the taxi-men side to their second trophy for the season after he netted the winner in the Cecafa/Kagame Cup final against Sudanese side El Merreikh last month.
Kitagenda struck past the Mukura goalie Sebastian Habimana a classy shot after the later had failed to hold on skipper Jean Lomami’s hard shot. Lomami was returning to the starting team after a two-month absence.
Lomami also headed off target through a well taken free-kick from Geoffrey Kateregga on 25th minute and two minutes later Donatien Tuyisenge wasted another free kick as he curved a narrow ball past the post.
The taxi-men side never got many options to sneak past the Mukura defense comprised of veterans Didier Bizimana and Canisius Bizumuremye.
But Mukura returned from the break a much changed side and played the better football of the two teams. They played some of the best football seen by any team through the season and created a coupled of scoring opportunities but lacked the finishing instinct.
Johnson Bagoole and Jean Shyaka pulled the strings in the Atraco midfield as they’ve done throughout the season, and they needed to be very alert to stop Mukura countless raids.
It was only poor finishing from Mukura that saved Atraco from conceding goals especially in the second period, which would have come as a major disappointment of the season (on Atraco’s side) following their failure to win the league.
Striker Daddy Birori, Akite Mudeyi and Rodriquez Murengezi proved a threat to Sam Timbe’s troops which lost control of their midfield which has been the key department for their success in a double winning season.
Nevertheless, credit should go to MTN Rwanda for the improved sponsorship package towards Rwanda’s key cup competition to Rwf50M from last year’s Rwf20M.
The hefty package saw clubs compete for total prize money of Rwf23 millions. APR received Rwf5m winning the 2008 edition.
The remaining Frw27 million went into covering team’s expenses like administrative costs, communication, transport of participating clubs, referees and purchasing medals and the trophy.
The deal which was one of the largest single sponsorships in any sport in Rwanda raised the profile of the Cup competition and invariably raised the quality of football played by all participating teams.