RAYON Sports head coach Roberto ‘Robertinho’ Oliveira Goncalves has praised the character of his players, especially striker Bonfils Kaleb Bimenyimana, after Wednesday’s crucial victory over Tanzania’s Young Africans in the last Group D fixture of the CAF Confederation Cup.
The striker was the sole scorer during the 1-0 win that saw the Blues through to the quarter-finals of Africa’s second biggest club competition. Rayon Sports will know their last eight opponent next week.
Goncalves was pleased to guide the eight-time Rwandan champions to a historic quarter-finals despite having a deplorable campaign in domestic engagements this season as Rayon finished fourth in the league before losing to Mukura VS in the Peace Cup final on August 12.
Burundian forward Bimenyimana scored the lone goal in the 19th minute after Young Africans’ defender Kevin Patrick Yondani failed to clear the ball a few yards outside the area.
“This is a historic moment for Rayon Sports and Rwandan football,” a visibly thrilled Goncalves told Times Sport in a post-match interview.
“We had an opportunity to register history, and make no mistake, I have a group of great men. This is a big milestone,” the Brazilian said.
Rayon Sports are the first Rwandan football club to reach the quarter-finals of any CAF competition.
“I gave my players two instructions, to defend together and attack together as a team, and that is perfectly what they did. Now the attention is turned to the next round,” he noted.
He further noted that, “We needed an early goal and, thankfully, we got it, which helped to calm down the players and cause Young Africans all sorts of problems. I told the players that we need to play our normal game and stick to it.”
His counterpart, Mwinyi Zahera, admitted that his team failed to cope with Rayon Sports’ relentless attacks saying that, “Overall, we lost to the better team.”
“We learned a lot from the group stage games. We have gained good experience and shall come back stronger and do better next time,” he stated.
Besides Group D leaders USM Alger of Algeria and runner-up Rayon Sports, other teams that sailed through to quarter-finals include; Morocco’s Raja Casablanca and RS Berkane, DR Congo’s AS Vita Club, Cara Brazzaville of the Republic of Congo, Nigeria’s Enyimba, and Egyptian side Al Masry SC.
By booking a ticket to quarter-finals, Rayon Sports are expected to receive a financial windfall of USD 340,000. The club also earned USD 260,000 for making it to the group stage in March.
Reaching the last four comes with a $437,644 prize while the beaten finalists are guaranteed $600,000. The CAF Confederation Cup winners pocket a grand prize of $1.25m.