Kevin Muhire: The meteoric rise of Rayon Sports and Amavubi midfielder

Kevin Muhire (with the ball) was instrumental in Rayon Sports’ impressive campaign to quarter-finals of CAF Confederation Cup this year. Sam Ngendahimana.

When Kevin Muhire was 17 years old, he helped Rayon Sports to win the Peace Cup tournament – the club’s first in 12 years. At 18, he inspired them to the 2016/2017 league title – the first since 2013.

“Muhire is an exceptional talent,” says Rayon Sports’ Brazilian coach, Roberto Oliveira Gonçalves do Carmo.

Muhire was a street footballer whose extraordinary skill and flair was being talked about in Rwanda football circles before being scouted and signed by then second division league side Isonga FC in 2013, a few months before turning 15.

He joined Isonga nearly two years after enrolling to Gikondo Football Center

But to everyone in Isonga, his character marked him out just as much as his talent.

During his first season with Isonga, he inspired the youthful side to a quick promotion to the 2014/2015 Azam Rwanda Premier League after winning the second tier championship.

In August 2015, two months before his 17th birthday, he joined Rayon Sports in a controversial move and has since won several titles with the club including; one league title, one Peace Cup, one Super Cup and two titles of Agaciro Development Fund tourney, to name a few.

Muhire’s path to the top has been as direct as his devastating dribbles which delighted Rayon Sports fans in Caf Confederation Cup this year where he helped the Blues to reach the round of last eight – a first for any Rwandan club.

In the space of just five years, Muhire has gone from Gikondo youth ranks to the first team via Isonga.

In today’s issue, Saturday Sport profiles the charismatic midfielder, who is largely viewed as a future superstar in club football and Amavubi circles.

But, who is Muhire?

Born on October 17, 1998 to Evariste Nsengiyumva and Gasigwa Murorunkwere in Gikondo Sector of Kicukiro District, City of Kigali, Muhire is the only child from the couple.

He attended Group Scolaire Imburabuturo, where he attended his grade 1 in primary to senior 2 before moving to APE Rugunga for senior 3 and his A’Level studies, majoring in History Economic and Geography.

However, Muhire dropped out after senior 5 to focus on his football career.

A fan of English Premier League giants, Manchester United, Muhire says his football idol is former Barcelona skipper and Spain legend Xavi Hernández.

What really pushed him into playing football?

“Nothing so special other than the love of the game, it was my own idea to play football. No one in my family inspired me because none of them played it”.

“It all started at the age of eight when I played street football with boyhood friends before joining Gikondo Football Centre. At the time, I also played for my school’s football team.

“In 2013, I signed my first contract with Isonga FC on a two-year deal and was part of the team that earned promotion to topflight league in July 2014”.

“After one season with Isonga in the first division, I opted not to renew my contract with Isonga for an “exciting and life-changing” move to Rayon Sports in the summer of 2015”.

Major honors

“Among other honors, I won the Peace Cup with Rayon Sports in my first season before claiming the league title the following season. Last – 2017/2018 – season, we became the first Rwandan side to reach quarter-finals of the Caf Confederation Cup”.

“Only last week, I was awarded as Rayon Sports’ Player of the Year, Rwanda’s Young Player of the Year, and I was named on the 2017-18 Team of the Season

National team duties

Since 2013, Muhire has featured for national football teams at all levels, quickly rising through the ranks from the youth U-17 team, junior U20 team, Olympic U23 team to the senior Amavubi.

His first official match in Rwandan colours came in 2014 when Amavubi Starlets lost 3-2 to their Ugandan counterparts in the qualifiers of the 2015 Africa U17 Cup of Nations. In 2016, Muhire was part of the junior U20 Amavubi team that also lost to Uganda in the U20 AFCON qualifiers.

The midfielder’s debut in senior Amavubi was in Rwanda’s goalless draw with Morocco in an international friendly match in 2015. It was during the preparation of the 2016 Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) finals, staged in Kigali. However, the then 17-year old Muhire did not make it to the final Amavubi squad that played the tournament.

He was also part of the Amavubi team – then under Johnny McKinstry – that finished second at the 2015 CECAFA Senior Challenge in Ethiopia after losing 1-0 to Uganda Cranes in the final.

Last month, Muhire was an unused substitute as Amavubi lost 2-1 to Group ‘H’ rivals Ivory Cost in Kigali and 2-0 away to Guinea in the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers.

However, he started in the most recent qualifier against Guinea, which ended in a 1-all draw.

His great moments in football?

“My greatest moment in football was helping Rayon Sports to reach the last eight in Caf Confederation Cup this year, and being named the club’s player of the year”.

How does he find Rwandan fans and their support during matches?

“Well, we all have to work hand in hand in order to boost the morale of both fans and players.  When the team plays well, of course fans will appreciate but if things are not going well on the field, the fans will definitely go quiet – yet that is when the players need their support the most”.

Does he harbour ambitions to play professionally?

“Of course I do, that is asking the obvious. I would love to one day play in Europe, when the right time and team comes, but at the moment I am happy at Rayon Sports”.

“I had trials with FC Shakhtyor Soligorsk in Belarus last year, which I passed, but I still had a contract with Rayon Sports, and unfortunately, the two sides could not agree on my transfer.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

 

ADVERTISEMENT