League title not won yet, warns Roberto

Striker Jules Ulimwengu (C), who scored the lone goal that stunned Police on Sunday, has been pivotal in Rayon Sports’ impressive second-half of the league. He has netted five times in his last three games. Sam Ngendahimana.

Thursday

Gicumbi Vs APR

Saturday

Amagaju Vs Rayon

RAYON Sports manager Roberto Oliveira Goncalves has admitted that his side has a slight edge and relatively easier fixtures heading into the final four match rounds in the Azam Rwanda Premier League title race, but warned his players against complacency.

The race is not yet over, he warned.

Roberto, also known as Robertinho, who earned one international cap for Brazil during his playing career, knows that his side passed a major test by beating Police on Sunday but the Brazilian says he is not about to get carried away, and so should his players.

Despite a run of four straight wins, and having only conceded once during their 3-1 victory over AS Muhanga, Roberto has refused to entertain the title talk, insisting that the one-point lead over closest rivals and defending champions APR is so small things could easily change between now and June 1.

“This was a tough match because Police are a really solid team with great players,” Roberto told reporters in a post-match interview on Sunday.

“I am very pleased with how my players handled it. I think, overall, we were the better side and deserved victory. We were mentally stronger, and the never-die spirit pulled us through.”

The league’s leading scorer, Jules Ulimwengu, came to the rescue of his side in the 86th minute after both sides had failed to find the back of the net. With minimal clear-cut chances throughout the 90 minutes, the game looked like it was destined for a goalless draw.

The win saw Rayon Sports leapfrog APR at the summit with 60 points, with a one-point cushion.

“We have to remain calm, and aim to win every game if we are to lift the title. The good thing is that the players know that, and have shown they want to do it.”

APR failed to tighten their grip at the top of the table last Friday as they were held to a 2-all draw by AS Kigali, the third time the army side were dropping points in their last four games.

Prior to their 1-0 defeat to Rayon Sports in the country’s biggest football match on April 20, which was followed by draws against SC Kiyovu and AS Kigali, APR led the Blues by six points.

And still with four tricky fixtures against Gicumbi (away), AS Muhanga (away), Espoir (home) and Police (away), APR find themselves with slender chances for what would be their record-extending 18th league title.

After Sunday’s hard-earned win at Police, Rayon travel to Nyagisenyi Stadium to take on bottom side Amagaju on Saturday, before Musanze (home) and Kirehe (away). They will wrap up the season with a tie against Marines at Kigali Stadium on June 1.

League winners represent the country in CAF Champions League, while Peace Cup winners feature in the CAF Confederation Cup.

Rayon, then under the guidance of Djuma Masudi, won their last league title in 2017, with a record 73 points. Should they stretch their current four-match winning streak to eight, they will clinch this season’s title with 72 points.

“There remains so much to do in the remaining weeks of the season. Every game is a title decider,” The manager said.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

 

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