APR head coach Jimmy Mulisa has praised his players for ‘strong character’ after beating Rayon Sports to lift this year’s Heroes Cup title on Friday.
Former Rayon Sports forward Dominique Savio Nshuti was the lone scorer as the army side overcame the Blues 1-0 at Amahoro National Stadium.
“This success is down to every player’s concerted effort and strong character,” Mulisa said.
An evidently excited former Amavubi forward further noted, “We refused to give up after losing the opening match, and bounced back with two victories in our last two games. We need to take stock of the performance [against Rayon] as we shift focus back to the league.”
APR won the title with six points, one ahead of Djuma Masudi’s AS Kigali who were held to a 1-all draw by Etincelles on Friday. Rayon finished in third position with 4 points, having won once and recorded one draw and suffered one defeat, respectively.
Winless Etincelles finished at the bottom of the four-team competition with one point.
Roberto Oliveira’s Rayon, who only needed a draw to retain the title, had many occasions to cancel out APR’s lead but clear-cut chances from Ghana-born Micheal Sarpong and Gilbert Mugisha were thwarted by goalkeeper Yves Kimenyi.
Sarpong almost brought back Rayon into the contention 50 seconds after the break, but his effort – after eliminating APR defenders – hit the crossbar.
Issa Bigirimana who set up Nshuti for the goal that proved to be the only difference, came closest to doubling the lead for the military side but his strike hit the post in the 65th minute.
“The whole team has been wonderful throughout the tournament. Particularly, I am happy that I scored the goal that won us the title,” Nshuti told Sunday Sport in a post-match interview.
Besides the trophy, APR also pocked Rwf4 million, twice the cash prize for first runners-up AS Kigali. The second runners-up Rayon Sports and bottom side Etincelles walked away with Rwf1.5 million and Rwf1 million, respectively.
In women’s category, local giants AS Kigali beat Scandinavia 4-3 on penalties to lift the title following the two sides’ 1-all draw at Kigali Stadium on Thursday. AS Kigali were awarded Rwf 750,000, while Scandinavia received Rwf 500,000.
Rayon Sports scooped the title last year – courtesy of a superior goal difference – despite losing 2-1 to APR in the final match.
The Heroes Cup tournament is organised by the Chancellery for Heroes, National Orders and Decorations of Honour (CHENO) to mark the National Heroes’ Day, which falls on February 1.