CAF Champions League: Rayon keen to see off Al Hilal in first round

Eric Rutanga (C) celebrates with Rayon Sports teammates after scoring against Gicumbi in a past league match at Kigali Stadium. Sam Ngendahimana.

RAYON Sports skipper Eric Rutanga is confident the Blues can eliminate Al Hilal Omdurman, of Sudan, when the two sides meet in the CAF Champions League next month.

The Rwandan champions have stepped up their preparations for the tie, with the first-leg set for August 9 in Kigali, following Sunday’s draws where they were pitted against Sudan’s most successful club.

The decisive clash will be played on the weekend of August 23-25 in Khartoum.

The aggregate winner will either face Rahimo of Burkina Faso or Nigeria powerhouse Enyimba in the second round.

“Al Hilal are one of the biggest clubs in the [Eastern Africa] region, so it’s going to be a tough tie,” Rutanga admitted in an exclusive interview with Times Sport on Tuesday.

Al Hilal, champions of the Sudan Premier League for a record 27 times, are facing a Rwandan team in continental football for a second consecutive season after eliminating Mukura Victory Sports from the CAF Confederation Cup’s playoffs round in January this year.

Rutanga noted, “The chance of going past the first round is there, but it will all depend on how we prepare and perform in the first leg. We have to aim for a big victory at home, and I am confident we can pull it off.”

CAF, the Confederation of Africa Football, has confirmed that a total of 62 teams will participate in the 2019/2020 Champions league, which will run from August 9 through May 30, 2020.

The upcoming CAF Champions League season will be the 56th edition of Africa’s premier club competition, and the 24th edition under the current CAF Champions League title.

In the meantime, AS Kigali – winners of the 2019 Peace Cup – have been drawn against Tanzanian outfit KMC in the preliminary round of the CAF Confederation Cup.

Robertinho returns

Brazilian tactician Roberto Oliveira, a.k.a Robertinho, is expected back in the country on Wednesday to sign a new contract with the club after guiding them to their ninth Azam Rwanda Premier League title in May.

The 59-year old, who was widely linked with a move to rivals APR, had left the club, early last month, after failing to meet his demands for the extension of his contract.

This publication also understands that Ghana-born striker Michael Sarpong and Rayon have reached an agreement to renew his contract and is expected to join teammates in camp this week after missing the just concluded Cecafa Kagame Cup. 

Rayon were brushed aside from the quarter-finals after losing 2-1 to Ugandan champions KCCA who went on to clinch the title, with a 1-0 win over Tanzania’s Azam in the final.

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