We are ready to face anyone in playoffs, Mukura skipper

Bertrand Iradukunda (L) Onesme Twizerimana (M) and goalie Umar Rwabugiri (R) have been instrumental in Mukura’s shining start to the 2018-19 season. They are seen here in a past training session at Amahoro Stadium. File.

MUKURA Victory Sports skipper Hussein Ciza has insisted that the Huye-based side are not afraid of taking on any experienced team in the CAF Confederation Cup playoffs come January 2019.

Francis Haringingo’s men will know who they will face in the third round – playoffs round – of the continent’s second biggest club competition on Friday during the draws ceremony at the Confederation of African Football (CAF) headquarters in Cairo, Egypt.

Sixteen teams that will survive the playoffs round, will automatically book tickets to the group stage. Should Mukura go through, they will become only the second Rwandan team to reach that far in any Caf competition, after Rayon Sports who reached the last eight this year.

Mukura advanced to the playoffs – for a historic first time – after edging out Sudanese side Al Hilal SC Al Obeid 5-4 on penalties last Saturday at Huye Stadium following goalless spoils in regular time. The two sides had also played out a goalless draw in the first-leg clash a week earlier in Sudan.

“We (Mukura) are ready to face any opponent in the playoffs. Our story since August when we qualified for the competition has been nothing short of inspiring, and we are not done yet. We reached this far on merit, it’s all been down to hard work and believing in ourselves,”Ciza told Times Sport on Tuesday.

This is the first time that the Huye-based outfit have progressed past the first round of the continental showpiece since their 1982 debut.

“Every team that made it to playoffs is not to be undermined. We will have respect for our opponent, but there will be no fear – we won’t be intimated.”

The Peace Cup holders, Mukura VS, are taking part in the continental showpiece for the first time in 18 years, since 2000 when they were knocked out from the first round by Ethiopian side Awassa City.

The play-offs round action will begin in January with the first leg slated for January 11-13 while the return leg will be staged on January 18-20.

Mukura will face one of these teams: Coton Sport and New Star (Cameroon), Gor Mahia (Kenya), Stade Malien (Mali), Al-Ahly Benghazi (Libya), Nkana FC (Zambia), AS Otoho (Republic of Congo), Jimma Aba Jifar (Ethiopia), Swatini’s Bantu FC (Lesotho), Al-Nasr SC and Zamalek (Egypt) or Morocco’s Ittihad Tanger.

Others teams in the playoffs round include; Raja Casablanca, RS Berkane, Hassania Agadir, African Stars, ASC Diaraf, Vipers SC, KCCA, CS Sfaxien, NA Hussein Dey, Petro de Luanda, Faso Salitas, Asante Kotoko, FC San Pedro, Enugu Rangers and Kaizer Chiefs.