April 2, 2019

Military Side APR FC Maintains League Title Hopes As Arch Rival Struggles

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If all stays as it is, APR FC is headed for its 18th title in 25 years

The 2018 Rwanda Premier League title winner APR FC is keeping an unassailable lead of the 2019 table – putting the military side on the footing for another consecutive trophy.

As if the recent bad media publicity isn’t bad enough, the 2017 title winner Rayon Sports is continuing to face its worst fears. Its hopes of catching up with arch-rivals APR FC for the league title race have taken a blow with just four games remaining.

Rayon Sport FC suffered a setback over the weekend when they drew 1-all with AS Kigali on Sunday afternoon, leaving APR FC to climb six points clear at the top of the Azam Rwanda Premier League summit.

The local Blues now trail champions APR by six points.

Mathematically, the military side will only be required to register two wins and a draw, to clinch their 18th title in the last 25 years.

Coach Roberto Oliveira’s men had plenty of chances to put the game to bed, even before Ugandan striker Frank Kalanda equalized for AS Kigali in the 63rd minute, including Djabel Manishimwe and Michael Sarpong’s clear-cut chances inside the opening twenty minutes.

A dominant Rayon controlled possession, and squandered opportunities one after the other, that only after 11 minutes, they had already had five corner-kicks.

Centre-back Ange Mutsinzi opened the scoring after 28 minutes with a beautiful free-kick a few yards outside Bate Shamiru’s box after AS Kigali skipper Tumanine Titi Ntamuhanga’s challenge on Jonathan Rafael da Silva.

Brazilian forward Rafael da Silva is yet to score a single goal for Rayon Sports since his signing last November.

After going into half-time with a 1-0 deficit, Djuma Masudi’s side returned for the second-half noticeably improved and more organized in the defense, and their pressure for an equalizer finally paid off in the 63rd minute when Kalanda outpaced Rayon Sports’ defender Eric Iradukunda to wrap up a fine counter-attack with a fantastic finish against helpless goalie Andre Mazimpaka.

As the game headed into final stages, Rayon created more chances in search for a second lead but second-half substitute Christophe Bukuru was denied by Bate Shamiru a couple times and a last-ditch effort by Ghanaian striker Sarpong went wide as AS Kigali held the eight-time champions to a draw for a second time this season.

Rayon have 48 points, while APR currently sits on the top summit with 51 out of 22 games played for now.

APR FC defeated Sunrise 2-0 on Saturday to extend their lead, two goals from Dominique Savio and Lague Byiringiro them a 17th victory of the season.

Both sides will have to face off on April 20. Rayon finished in third position last season.

Huye district-based side Mukura VS, have 44 points in third place. They have played 21 games. They will take on Espoir FC at AS Muhanga on April 3rd. Mukura finished 13th with 31 points last season.

Meanwhile, Kiyovu has surrendered ground in the race for the title. They are in the fourth position with 35 points out of ten wins, five draws and six defeats in 21 games. Kiyovu will take on Bugesera FC on April 3rd.

Kiyovu came fifth last season with 49 points, one point ahead of Police FC.

The so called law enforcers who have to play without their coach Albert Mphande for four months are fifth with 34 points.

The Zambian was suspended from all football-related activities by national football body FERWAFA for the rest of the season following an alleged attempt to harm a match referee during his 2-1 defeat to Amagaju FC last month.

Rusizi district-based Espoir FC is the surprise team of the season. They have climbed to the sixth spot with 31 points out of 21 games played. Last season, they finished 8th last season.

AS Kigali have struggled this season. Apparently they have won only seven games, lost eight and drawn seven times. The Kigali City sponsored club has 29 points.

Last season, they finished in second position, five points following APR FC.

He might have assisted Rayon Sports FC to lift 9th Peace Cup trophy, but Burundian Djuma Masudi Irambona is finding it difficult this season after returning from Tanzanian side Simba FC.

Meanwhile, the Southern province team AS Muhanga came into the top flight with a mission to remain in the top division. Out of 21 games, they have won seven games, drawn seven and lost 7.

Striker Yannick Bizimana has been instrumental in the team. He has scored 10 goals and if all goes well he might remain the club’s top scorer this season.

Nyagatare based team Sunrise FC has 27 points – one point ahead of Marines FC in ninth position with 26 points. Last season, the military side finished 12th with 32 points. They will battle bottom side Amagaju FC.

Etincelles FC which started on the good note at the start of the season has plunged to 11th position and tied on points with Bugesera FC at 24 points.

Musanze FC is not safe from relegation. They have 23 points, three ahead of Gicumbi FC which is in the relegation zone with 17 points.

The Gicumbi based team have a mountain to climb taking into consideration their next features. They have to collect points from Kiyovu, AS Kigali, Marines FC champions APR FC when they face off before the league concludes otherwise relegation is inevitable.

Kirehe and Amagaju FC are seated at the bottom, with 17 and 15 points, respectively. Amagaju FC has endured the most defeats this season 15 while Kirehe FC is ranked third with 12 loses.

Kirehe FC has only won three games on top of recording a negative -17 goal difference while Amagaju has managed 4 victories from 22 matches. Both sides have the weakest squads in the division.

Their attempts to be progressive have been hampered by failure of their supposedly attacking midfielders, none of whom has scored over five goals.

Kirehe travels to Musanze FC on April 20, while Marines FC will entertain Amagaju on the same day.

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