Rugby league: Kigali Sharks begin title defence against Lion de Fer

Kigali Sharks ended their 15-year league title jinx last season. File.

Saturday

Central division

Thousand Hills  Vs  Remera Buffaloes             14:00

Kigali Sharks     Vs  Lion de Fer               16:00

Kigali Sharks may have had a dismal preseason campaign but head coach Moïse Habumugisha has insisted that the champions are ready to hit the ground running when they take on rugby league rivals Lion de Fer in their season opener on Saturday.

The highly anticipated game will get underway at 4pm, at Red Cross grounds in Kacyiru.

Habumugisha, a former Remera Buffaloes player and coach who joined Sharks three weeks ago, says that their priority this season is to defend the title they won last October.

“Retaining the title is top of my priorities, and that it is what I promised the club when I was signed a few weeks back. We have had adequate preparations for the new season, and I have confidence in my players for the challenge,” Habumugisha told Saturday Sport on Friday.

Sharks will have to deal with star forward Sharif Gasore who crossed to Lion de Fer in a controversial move last month after inspiring the former to their historic first league title last season.

The champions have, however, signed former Remera Buffaloes duo of Emmanuel Kazungu and Emmanuel Mugisha and tactician Habumugisha believes the gap left by Gasore is well-covered.

However, Habumugisha has warned his players not to underrate Lion de Fer, a side that, he says, boosts a blend of young and experienced players.

“After being shorthanded to finish as runners-up in the preseason tournament, this is a good time to prove (to ourselves) that we are still the same able team. We won’t take Lion de Fer lightly.”

Kigali Sharks will mainly rely on the exploits of experienced players such as blocker Patrick Kazungu, hooker Barnabas Ngizwenayo, full-back Jean Dieudonne Hakizimana and forward Gerald Nduwayezu will lead the attack.

Lion de Fer finished fourth last season, but the club’s vice president Donat Kanyamahanga is convinced that they have since matured and they are also ready to challenge for the title this year.

“We have been preparing for the last two months, we’re ready to fight for victory against the Sharks. After beefing up our squad with seven new signings, our target is to challenge for the league title this season,” he said.

Among the new arrivals at the club is Jean-Paul Hatali who was shipped from Remera Buffaloes.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

 

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