Rayon Sports eye domestic double after league triumph

L-R: Skipper Thierry Manzi, Francois ‘Master’ Mugisha, Jonathan Rafael da Silva and Eric Gisa Iramboka show off with their medals on Saturday. / Sam Ngendahimana

Roberto Oliveira has urged his Rayon Sports players to focus on winning the Peace Cup title for a historic domestic double following their triumphant league success.

Rayon were on Saturday crowned the 2018/2019 Azam Rwanda Premier League champions on Saturday after beating Marines 3-0 at Amahoro Stadium.

Free-scoring Jules Ulimwengu, playmaker Djabel Manishimwe and Gilbert Mugisha were on target as the Blues ended their remarkable season in style; with 72 points, seven ahead of first runners-up APR.

Mukura and Police finished third and fourth, in that order.

Speaking to reporters in a post-match interview, Roberto said that he was lost for words to describe how his side managed to turn a seven-point deficit into a seven-point lead in just six games. “It is just insane. Very hard to explain, but my boys did it. We did it.”

Rayon, who lost the Peace Cup final to Mukura last year, start this year’s campaign against AS Kigali on Tuesday, and the Brazilian tactician appealed to his players that “the season is not over yet.”

“We still have two titles to focus on – the Peace Cup, and later, the Cecafa Kagame Cup. They (players) should stay put and hungry for success. We cannot afford to be complacent,” he said.

Should Rayon win the 2019 Peace Cup title, it will be the club’s first time to clinch the domestic double. “We had a great league season, and that is good motivation for us.

However, Roberto is aware that his side’s first round against the 2013 winners AS Kigali will not be easy despite the latter’s subdue below-par league campaign where they finished in a disappointing seventh position on the 16-team table.

During the 2017/2018 season, the City of Kigali-sponsored side finished in second place, five points adrift of champions APR.

“The margin of error in Peace Cup is very thin. It is a knock-out competition. Moreover, we are starting against one of the best teams in the country. We will have to be ready for a tough tie.”

He further warned his players: “We can’t let their poor league season fool us.”

According to the local FA’s schedule, the Peace Cup tournament will conclude on July 4, just five days before this year’s Cecafa Kagame Cup kicks-off in Kigali.

It is expected that as the host nation, Rwanda will be represented by three teams in the Eastern Africa premier club tournament. The three clubs are; Rayon Sports, APR and Mukura.

No Rwandan side have won the regional showpiece since APR in 2010.