AS Kigali target group stage in CAF Confederation Cup

Skipper Tumaine ‘Tity’ Ntamuhanga (#12), Eric Nsabimana (#30) and new signing Haruna Niyonzima (#8) were part of the team’s first training session at Kigali Stadium on Wednesday. / Saddam Mihigo

AS Kigali head coach Eric Nshimiyimana has said that he is buoyant of guiding his side to group stage of the upcoming 2019-20 CAF Confederation Cup after rejoining the club last week.

The former Rwanda international made a surprise return to AS Kigali after a disappointing league season that saw the City of Kigali-sponsored side finish in seventh position, 33 points behind champions Rayon Sports.

However, against all the odds, they managed to eliminate all top favourites – Rayon, APR and Mukura – en route to clinching their third Peace Cup title after beating SC Kiyovu in the final.

With the Peace Cup triumph, AS Kigali automatically qualified to represent the country in the Confederation Cup, and will start their campaign against Tanzania’s Kinondoni Municipal Council (KMC) on the weekend of August 9-11.

The Tanzania outfit, who failed to make it past the group stage of the recently concluded 2019 Cecafa Kagame Cup in Rwanda, boost former APR skipper Jean-Baptiste Mugiraneza in their ranks. The holding midfielder was among the sixteen players who were released by the army side earlier this month.

Speaking to Times Sport on Thursday, tactician Nshimiyimana said, “We want to go as far as possible in the tournament. The first target is to reach the group stage and once we get there, who knows where we will end up!”

It is the third time that Nshimyimana, 47, is coaching AS Kigali following his 2008 brief stint and then from 2013 to 2018.

Since winning the Peace Cup, AS Kigali have been on a shopping spree in the transfer market, having already signed Haruna Niyonzima and a number of other experienced players as well as four imports from Gabon and Cameroon.

Nshimiyimana further noted: “We are going to focus on one game at a time.”

“Reaching the second round will be our first important achievement, and then continue the hard work for the next round. The mood in the team is fantastic, and all the players are fit and ready for continental football.”

Should AS Kigali see off KMC, they will face the winner between Uganda’s Proline and Masters Security Services of Malawi in the second round.