Mukura ready to live up to ‘elite status’ after Peace Cup triumph

Mukura Victory Sports stunned Rayon Sports 3-1 on penalties to win Peace Cup on August 12 to land ticket to the 2019 CAF Confederation Cup. File photo.

Newly crowned Peace Cup kings, Mukura Victory Sports et Loisirs Football Club, also simply known as Mukura, are keen to live up to the expectations next season as a ‘major club’ after stunning Rayon Sports to lift this year’s Peace Cup title.

By winning the country’s second biggest football tournament, Mukura qualified to represent Rwanda at the 2019 CAF Confederation Cup – their first appearance in the competition.

Head coach Francis Haringingo has expressed his desire to transform the Huye-based side into a consistently strong team, and uplift them to the powerhouse level of the usual suspects APR, Rayon Sports, Police and AS Kigali.

“We have done so well in Peace Cup this season, and beating Rayon Sports in the final to win the tournament even boosted the morale and confidence in the team. Now that we have proved we can overcame any opponent, we have to aim for consistency and set ourselves big dreams.

“We can’t keep underestimating ourselves. We need a new mindset, and start fighting for titles,” Haringingo told Times Sport on Sunday.

 “It takes time to build, but I believe in the process. 2017/2018 was my first season with Mukura, I am optimistic we will achieve much more. We want to be one of the best clubs in domestic football and establish a reputation where every opponent fear to face us,” he added.

The Burundian tactician revived Mukura’s glorious days by steering the club to Peace Cup title on August 12 at Kigali Stadium – their first major title in 26 years.

“Mukura is a big club, with great history. I can’t be more happy for being the man who restored the club’s glory after a 26-year trophy drought. When I signed up for the job last year, my priority was to win at least one trophy in the first season, and thankfully I did achieve it. But to do that, I had the support and backing of the players, fans and the club management – we did it together,” a visibly happy Haringingo said in a lengthy conversation.

He added: “I am looking forward to see them (Mukura players) grow and become big stars for the future, we will also add in a few new players to reinforce the squad ahead of next season. We need to win another trophy in the 2018-19 campaign, the league or Peace Cup again – or both.”

Meanwhile, the president of Mukura VS , Olivier Nizeyimana said that now more than ever, they have a coach whose football philosophy fits in the club’s vision and ambitions.

He further noted that after exhausting a budget of around Rwf150m last season, the budget will be increased for the upcoming season so that results can improve, especially in the league.

“We are going to add some new faces and the budget will go a bit higher, but we are ready for it. As long as the results reflect the investments,” Nizeyimana said in a separate interview.

“Many people fear we might fail to get means to compete in CAF Confederation Cup next season. My response is: we will be there, and represent our country well,” he insisted.

“We can’t be a punching bag or underdog anymore, winning the Peace Cup at a time when we endured our worst league campaign is proof that if we become more intentional and goal-oriented, we can achieve a lot. That is the direction where we are headed effective next season,” he said.

Besides lifting the trophy and earning the right to represent the country in next year’s CAF Confederations Cup, Mukura also bagged Rwf10 million in prize money.

Previously, they had lost three Peace Cup finals in a space of 10 years; first, 4-2 to APR in penalty shootouts – in 1999 following a goalless draw in regular time; then 3-0 to Rayon Sports in 2005; and 1-0 to now-defunct Atraco in 2009.

Mukura was founded in May 1963, and have in the past featured in various CAF competitions on several occasions. They are one of the clubs who suffered the most losing many players, well known fans and administrators during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

The black and yellow outfit have played the CAF Winners’ Cup (currently CAF Confederation Cup) on five occasions in; 1982, 1987, 1988, 1993 and 2001– and never progressed past the first round.