19 May 2017

Rwanda: Rayon Sports Coach Ends Self-Imposed Media Blackout

Photo: Timothy Kisambira/The New Times
Rayon Sports coach Djuma Masudi is carried shoulder-high by his players after winning the league on Wednesday at Stade de Kigali.

Rayon Sports head coach Djuma Masudi finally talked to the media for the first time since his return from suspension.

Masudi addressed the media after his team had been crowned national football league champions for the 2016/17 season on Wednesday afternoon.

The Burundian tactician had shunned the media following his return from serving a seven-day suspension imposed on him by the club on April 28 over allegations of 'insubordination' among others.

During his absence, assistant coach Maurice Nshimiyimana took charge. However, when Rayon were crowned league championson Wednesday, Masudi broke the silence with a moving tribute to the players.

Rayon sealed the title with a 2-1 win against Mukura Victory Sports at Stade de Kigali, with four matches remaining.

"I think this is a great achievement for the players, we faced tough teams, strong players, excellent coaches and poor pitches. However, we had a target before the league start and we never diverted from it," said a visibly excited Masudi.

The 39-year-old former Burundi international has also made history as the second Rayon Sports coach to win the league title as a player and a coach after Jean Baptiste Kayiranga, who won it as coach/player in 2002 before guiding the Blues to the title as head coach two years later.

Rayon Sports secured their eighth title with four games to spare after a double from Malian forward Moussa Camara saw them climb to 67 points, 13 points ahead of second-placed APR FC.

Mukura's Yusuf Habimana snatched a consolation goal, however; it wasn't enough to keep on hold the celebrations for Rayon fans. Rayon Sports will receive the trophy at the end of the season.

The Burundian tactician has wasted no time in returning Rwanda's most supported club to glory in his first full season as a head coach after three years that had been dominated by their traditional archrivals APR.

With four matches remaining, Rayon Sports have lost just once, winning 21 and drawing four. The team has scored 57 goals, the most by any side and conceded 15, the least conceded in the league this season. After taking charge of the club in the second round of last season, he finished second, just two points behind eventual winners, APR.

However, he went on to win the Peace Cup after defeating APR 1-0 in the title match before reaching the playoff round of this year's CAF confederation Cup, which was the club's best performance in its history.

"This season, they (players) showed me great attitude, great patience, great will, great desire to try to do something great," he noted.

In their remaining four matches, the champions will play away to already relegated Pepiniere FC on Saturday in Ruyenzi, Etincelles FC on May 23 at Umuganda Stadium, APR FC at Amahoro Stadium on May 28 before winding up the campaign against SC Kiyovu at Mumena Stadium.

Rayon Sports who will represent Rwanda at next year's Total CAF Champions League is also still in contention for the Peace Cup title. They face Police FC in the quarter-finals next month.

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