AS KIGALI were supposed to be one of the main challengers for the Rwanda Premier League title this season, with most pundits suggesting that they looked like a side that would finally halt the dominance of APR and Rayon Sports.
The City of Kigali-sponsored side, and winners of the 2019 Peace Cup, were the busiest team on the transfer market between June and September as they made several star signings including Amavubi skipper Haruna Niyonzima, goalkeeper Eric ‘Bakame’ Ndayishimiye, right-back Michel Rusheshangonga, midfielder Rashid Kalisa and forward Fiston Nkinzingabo.
The club also acquired four imports, all strikers – three from Cameroon and a Gabonese – to boost their ambitious quest for a historic first league title.
Two months into the 2019/2020 season, after 12 match rounds, AS Kigali lie in 11th position with 13 points, just five above the relegation zone. This has marked the club’s worst start to a new season since joining the topflight league nearly two decades ago.
Out of 12 matches, head coach Eric Nshimiyimana and his side have only managed two wins.
According to sources, AS Kigali officials have been reluctant – despite pathetic results – to sack Nshimiyimana who is at the club for a third stint, especially after axing him in October 2018 before reappointing him in July.
Only in the last 18 months, the Nyamirambo-based side have been under the coaching of three different managers; Nshimiyimana (twice), Djuma Masudi and Jean de Dieu Mateso who guided them to their third Peace Cup title, after beating SC Kiyovu in the final.
Should Nshimiyimana fail to turn things around before Christmas, it will not be a matter of if but rather of when he will be shown the exit door, otherwise he is already at the edge.
The performance puts him on the ropes, and could soon join Amars Niyongabo who was given marching orders by Musanze last week.
Before Niyongabo’s sacking, four more head coaches had been fired at different clubs. Olivier Ovambe was first at Mukura, then JMV Nduwantare at Gicumbi followed by Justin Bimenyimana and Innocent Seninga at Bugesera and Etincelles, respectively.
Nshimiyimana’s next challenge comes Sunday when AS Kigali host Gicumbi at Kigali Stadium, and a crushing defeat to the bottom side might prove the final straw for the former Amavubi star.