Rayon Sports coach Olivier Karekezi is targeting to win this year's Agaciro Development Fund tournament to make a statement ahead of the 2017/18 season that gets underway on Sept. 29.
But the former Amavubi captain knows his team must beat both AS Kigali and APR FC in two remaining fixtures if he's to achieve his set goals.
Both APR and Rayon Sports recorded wins in the opening matches of the second edition played on Saturday at Amahoro National Stadium.
The tournament has attracted the top four teams from last season that will play against each other on a round-robin and the team with the most points, will be the champion.
The top team will take a trophy and Rwf3million cash prize, while the second team will get Rwf2million and third-placed team will walk away with Rwf1million.
Each team has been given Rwf3million to prepare for the tournament and there will be awards for the best player, top scorer, promising player and best goalkeeper. The tournament rules allow each team to make six substitutes. In the opening game, APR defeated AS Kigali 2-0 courtesy of two first half goals from forwards Maxime Sekamana and Issa Bigirimana in the 12th and 34th minutes respectively.
League champions Rayon Sports edged Police FC 1-0 thanks to a 74th minute header by defender Mugabo Gabriel following a well taken corner from Burundian international Pierrot Kwizera.
After the opening round of matches, Jimmy Mulisa's APR FC lead the standings on three points same as Rayon Sports but the former have a better goal difference.
"It is a difficult game against Police but we have managed to win it, I must thank my players for putting on a good performance and our fans for their support throughout the match, they played a big part in this win," Karekezi told Times Sport after Saturday's victory.
The rookie coach added that, "My players are getting better day after day, these pre-season games are good to try out different things with the squad and we now look forward to the next two games against AS Kigali and APR."
On Wednesday, APR FC will take on Police while AS Kigali will entertain Rayon Sports, both games will be played at Amahoro Stadium.
Agaciro Development Fund was introduced during the 2011 National Dialogue and was launched in August 2012 to build up public savings to achieve self-reliance and accelerate socio-economic development.
Police FC are defending champions having won the inaugural tournament staged in 2015 following a 1-0 win over Sunrise FC in the final. Organizers says, effective this edition, the tournament will be held annually.
Azam Rwanda Premier League champions Rayon Sports will begin their title defence against AS Kigali on September 29, while record 16- league winners, APR FC, who finished third last season, will start their campaign with a tie against Sunrise FC on September 30.
APR FC vs Police 3:30pm
Rayon Sports vs AS Kigali 6pm
AS Kigali vs Police FC
APR vs Rayon Sports
AS Kigali 0-2 APR FC
Rayon Sports 1-0 Police FC