Rayon Sports' slim chances of reaching the MTN Peace Cup final have been strongly affected as several senior players signed a petition to remove the coach Jean Marie Ntagwabira on Friday.
Ntagwabira was booed by his own fans after a 3-1 defeat by APR FC in the semi-final first leg on Thursday. A section of Blues fans clearly have not forgiven Ntagwabira for the remarks he made in 2010 when he told the press he would never coach Rayon before joining them to in 2011.
After the Wednesday defeat, some of the fans nearing the dressing room directed abuses in direction of the coach accusing him to surrender easily in front of the team he played for and later coached, and the players seem to have jumped to the same wagon.
"I am aware of the petition letter, but I will wait the decision to be made by the club's hierarchy. Until then, there is nothing more I can say", said the 42-year old in a phone interview on Saturday.
"What I know is that all the players didn't sign the letter, and there are some who are not happy with the move (to write it). But I can assure you that I will be on the touchline for Sunday's second leg match," added Ntagwabira.
By press time, the coach, his bosses and senior players were engaged in an emergency meeting to try and diffuse the tension before today's game. The team trained normally on Saturday morning.
Team captain Karim McKenzie Nizigiyimana, initially thought to be one of the players that signed the letter, denied its existence.
"There is no petition letter... I don't know where you get this information from," stated the Burundian international, who missed the mid-week match against his former club through illness.
Ntagwabira's contract with Rayon is due to expire after the MTN Peace Cup final, and Hamadi Ndikumana Katauti, who plans to retire at end of this season, is expected to take over.
Meanwhile in an earlier interview, Ntagwabira told this paper his team still has a fighting chance in the return leg.
"Of course the second leg will be extremely difficult," admitted Ntagwabira, before adding, "It is possible to win 2-0 but our major task will be to score and stop APR scoring, something that is very difficult."
Rayon Sport last won a trophy in 2004 and since then their fans have watched in agony as their arch rivals win trophies year in year out.
The Blues' financial woes which are largely blamed on poor management has played a big part in their wobbly performances for the last eight years.
MTN Peace Cup
APR vs Rayon 3pm
Police in final
The winner of today's semi-final will meet Police Fc in the final on July 4 at Amahoro stadium. Police drew 2-2 with AS Kigali at home in the second leg yesterday following the 0-0 draw in the first leg away.
Brazilian forward Rivaldo Ledond and Fabrice Twizeyimana scored for Police, while AS Kigali's goals were scored by Jimmy Mbaraga and Innocent Habiyimana.