Crunch time as Rayon, Gor Mahia lock horns

Striker Shaban Hussein Shabalala dribbles past Costa do Sol defender Salomao Mondlane during the first leg at Kigali Stadium. Sam Ngendahimana.

Rayon vs Gor Mahia 6pm
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RAYON Sports will be hoping that they can kick off their Confederation cup group stage campaign with a home win against Kenya’s Gor Mahia this evening at Kigali Regional Stadium.

While Gor Mahia have been in the group stages of this competition before, Rayon Sports are making their debut after edging Mozambique’s Costa do Sol 3-2 on aggregate.

Ivan Minneart, Rayon Sports’ Belgian-born technician yesterday warned his players not to be complacent but rather remain organized, focused and determined to stretch the team’s unbeaten record at home in the Confederation cup.

The Blues played a 1-all draw with Burundi’s Lydia Ludic in the preliminary round of CAF Champions league in February, a goalless draw with South African giants Mamelodi Sundawns in the first round before thumping Costa do Sol 3-0 in the play-offs last month.

“Our main target is to win the game and start the chase for a spot to quarter-finals. We are playing Gor Mahia, a big team with good players but that won’t intimidate us. We are focused on our game plan.” Minneart told Sunday Sport yesterday.

Burundian midfielder Pierrot Kwizera and compatriot Bonfils Caled Bimenyimana are back on the squad after missing the return-leg against Costa do Sol.

“With the same spirit of good home results, we need to be offensive and avoid conceding. The mood in the team is magnificent and every player is fit for the showdown.” he added.

The record 16-time Kenyan champions arrived in the country on Saturday morning before having a light training session later in the day at Kigali stadium in Nyamirambo, which is the venue for today’s clash.

Gor Mahia head coach Dylan Kerr acknowledges the magnitude of the task at hand but emphasized “We are ready to do the needful” at all cost.

“Rayon Sports have a very good attack but their defense is not very mobile. We must exploit their blind spot to get a positive result we are in Kigali for.” Kerr said after the team arrived yesterday.

To advance to the group stage of the continent’s second biggest club competition, Gor Mahia eliminated SuperSport United of South Africa courtesy of away goal advantage. SuperSport beat Gor Mahia 1-0 in Nairobi but Gor had the last laugh with a 2-1 hard fought win in South Africa.

In another Group D encounter, also to be played today, USM Alger of Algeria are hosting Tanzania’s Young Africans.

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