Rwanda: Football in 2020 - APR's Unbeaten Run and Rayon Sports' Mismanagement Woes

30 December 2020

FOOTBALL FANS in Rwanda had a season to forget as Covid-19 interrupted the beautiful game both on the local and international scene.

A lot that characterized football in 2020 can be linked to the pandemic which forced suspension of action and other resultant effects, like the failure of clubs to pay players' salaries.

However, on a positive note, there are various pleasant events that unfolded. For example, APR won the league unbeaten, while Gorilla F.C and Rutsiro United were for the first time promoted to top flight football.

Times Sport looks at the events that characterized football in 2020, a year where we saw several sudden changes in many aspects of life.

APR registers unbeaten season

In May this year, APR were crowned champions, winning the trophy unbeaten when FERWAFA halted the season after clubs had played 23 of the 30 games they were meant to play.

Although it can be argued that the premature end of the season played a part in the record-breaking achievement, Adil Erradi's men can be credited for going 23 matches unbeaten for the portion of the season that was played.

Rutsiro FC, Gorilla promoted to topflight football for first time

The month of November saw Rutsiro and Gorilla football clubs promoted to the Rwanda Premier League for the first time.

The two sides replaced Heroes FC and Gicumbi which were relegated.

Rutsiro FC earned promotion to the topflight League after beating Vision FC 7-6 on penalties in the first semi-final after a goalless draw in regular time.

In another exciting semi-final, Gorilla FC landed their promotion after edging Etoile de l'Est 4-3 in a penalty shootout following a 0-0 draw in normal time.

Rayon Sports legend Witakenge dies at 50

In April, sad news of the death of Rayon Sport legend Jeannot Witakenge saddened the football fraternity in the country.

Witakenge was one of the finest midfielders that graced local football and died at the age of 50 from cancer in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The DR Congo-born star helped Rayon to the 1997 and 1998 league titles, the 1998 Peace Cup as well as the club's only CECAFA Kagame Cup in 1998.

RIB investigates Rayon's embezzlement allegations.

The Rwanda Investigation Bureau, in May announced that they were going to investigate embezzlement allegations made against ex-Rayon Sports presidents during their tenures at the club.

The Rwanda Governance Board and Ministry of Sports set up a committee to investigate accusations and counter accusations in the club and some of the recommendations included the club chairman, Sadate Munyakazi and his executive committee resigning from the club.

An interim committee was handed the reins of the club, and later on, a new president took over, inheriting a number of challenges at the club which are mainly financial.

Goalkeeper Kimenyi seals record move to SC Kiyovu

In May, Rwanda Premier League side SC Kiyovu completed the signing of Yves Kimenyi for a fee of Rwf16 million - a record fee for a goalkeeper in domestic football.

The 27-year old completed a two-year deal on May 26, after many weeks of negotiations to join the Green Baggies from traditional rivals Rayon Sports.

Amavubi's poor run continues

In November, the hopes of the Rwanda National Team, Amavubi to make it to AFCON 2022 were dealt a huge blow after a goalless draw against Cape Verde.

Amavubi currently sit at the bottom of Group F, having registered only 2 points in the 4 games they have played so far in the ongoing qualification campaign.

Nzarora and Rusheshangoga retire from football career

In August, former Amavubi goalkeeper Marcel Nzarora retired from football at the age of 27, partly because of injuries that had rocked his short career.

The month of December saw a notable retirement when Amavubi and AS Kigali right-back Michel Rusheshangoga called time on his career too.

On a rather more obvious note, in August, former national team assistant captain Jean-Baptiste Mugiraneza retired from international football at the age of 34, after a 14-year career in the national team.

Clubs forged Covid-19 results

On December 14, the Ministry of Sports suspended the 2020/21 Rwanda Premier League indefinitely after it was found that some players and clubs had violated covid-19 guidelines, which resulted in new cases.

Some of the clubs allegedly forged results of Covid-19. The National Football governing body, Ferwafa fined four clubs which include; Rayon Sports, Rutsiro, AS Muhanga and Bugesera.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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