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Rayon shrug off loss of key duo to keep pressure on APR

Youngster Jules Ulimwengu (L) opened the scoring after nine minutes before doubling his side’s lead just before the break during Rayon Sports’ 3-1 win over AS Muhanga on Saturday. File.


Muhanga           1-3          Rayon


Mukura              1-2          Police




APR                     3-0         Bugesera

Marines             1-0         Musanze

Espoir                 1-1          Sunrise

Despite the absence of suspended skipper Thierry Manzi and star left-back Eric Rutanga, second-placed Rayon Sports coped well with the deficit as they saw off AS Muhanga 3-1 at Muhanga Stadium on Sunday.

With the big victory on away turf, Rayon remained three points adrift of leaders and defending champions APR, who thrashed Bugesera 3-0 on Saturday, with six matches for each side to play.

Amavubi defenders Manzi and Rutanga were suspended for match-day 24 due to three accumulative yellow cards, but they will both be back when the Blues host Espoir at Kigali Stadium on Thursday.

Zlatko Krmpotić’s army side lead the table with 75 points, with hopefuls Rayon on 54, while Mukura – who lost 2-1 to Police – are third with 48 points. Following SC Kiyovu’s 1-0 loss to AS Kigali on Friday, the law enforcers now complete top four with 40 points.

Youngster Jules Ulimwengu, who joined Rayon in January, opened the scoring as early as in the 9th minute after some good work from Ghana striker Michael Sarpong. The latter almost doubled the lead after 24 minutes but his effort was denied by goalie Patrick Isingizwe.

Skipper Adolphe Hakundikiza could also have brought back the hosts into the match in the 27th minute but his strong strike from outside the box found Andre Mazimpaka steady in the goal.

Just before the break, stand-in captain Djabel Manishimwe, who was the troublemaker for AS Muhanga’s defenders, set up for Ulimwengu as the Burundi-born striker netted his second goal on the night, after the midfielder’s amazing run from the right flank into the penalty area.

Olivier ‘Sefu’ Niyonzima made it 3-0 in the 73rd minute before Dany Niyongira scored the consolation goal for the hosts with three minutes to clock.

Courtesy of his double, 19-year old Ulimwengu leads the hunt for the 2018/2019 Azam Rwanda Premier League’s golden boot, with 14 goals, just one ahead of APR star Muhadjiri Hakizimana, who scored a hat-trick against Bugesera.

After their emphatic victory over Bugesera on Saturday, APR take on Alain Kirasa’s SC Kiyovu on Tuesday in what is widely seen as a threat to their bid for a record-extending 18th league title.


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