CAF Conf Cup: Rayon take on Young Africans in do-or-die clash

Centre-back Abdul Rwatubyaye, seen here in Monday’s training session at Kigali Stadium, will captain Rayon Sports today in the absence of suspended skipper Thierry Manzi. Courtesy.

Today

Group D
Rayon Sports Vs Young Africans 15:00
USM Alger Vs Gor Mahia 15:00

It will be a case of now or never for Rayon Sports when they take on Young Africans today at Kigali Stadium in their final Group D match, in Total CAF Confederation Cup.

The Blues host the Tanzania giants in a must-win clash with history in sight as they bid to become the first Rwandan side to reach the quarter-finals in any CAF competition. Both sides played out a goalless draw in the first-leg in Dar es Salaam.

Anything less than a win for Rayon, will see group rivals; Algeria’s USM Alger and Kenyan champions Gor Mahia through to the round of last eight, regardless of the outcome of the two sides’ encounter in Algiers this afternoon .

After a four-game winless run in the group stage, Rayon Sports pulled off a surprise 2-1 victory over Gor Mahia in Nairobi nearly a fortnight ago to boost their chances of reaching the quarter-finals.

Speaking to Times Sport on Tuesday, Rayon Sports’ Brazilian coach Roberto Oliveira Goncalves de Calmo said his players are fit and mentality prepared for the ‘very important’ game.

“Despite some of our best players not being eligible for the game, the rest of the players are fit and in great mood. It is a very important match, with a lot of meaning – and we will give it our all,” Goncalves said.

He added, “We are very close to reaching the next round in the competition, but all that means nothing unless we win. That is what I want my players to remember when they step on to the pitch Wednesday (today) afternoon, I’m quite convinced that with the right mentality we will win.”

While Rayon will face Young Africans, also known as Yanga, without some of their stars such as Thierry Manzi and Yannick Mukunzi as well as Olivier Niyonzima and forward Christ Mbongi – all through CAF suspensions, Times Sport has also learned that the 27-time Tanzania champions have also traveled without some of their best players, including skipper Djuma Abdul.

Others are; Saidi Makabu, Abdul Mwinyi, Mrisho Ngassa, Feisal Salum Toto, Pappy Kabamba Tshishimbi, and Thabani Kamusoko.

Prior to stunning Gor Mahia on August 19, Robert Oliveira’s side had registered three draws and one defeat.

They got off to a wrong foot with a 1-all draw against Gor Mahia in Kigali, then were held to a goalless draw by Young Africans in Dar, which was followed by a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of USM Alger before Rayon and USM Alger played out a 1-all stalemate in Algerian capital.

After five match rounds, with one to go, Rayon are third with 6 points, two adrift of USM Alger and Gor Mahia, who jointly top the table, with 8 points each.

Young Africans are at the bottom of the group with four points.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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