Rwanda/Morocco: How Imanishimwe Cemented His Name in Moroccan Football

Some supporters of Moroccan side AS FAR Rabat on social media were very skeptical when the club was signing Emmanuel Imanishimwe from APR FC on August 5, 2021.

Those fans cannot be faulted as FAR Rabat is a big club and they are used to big name players on the African continent or even African top players coming back home to relaunch their career after struggling to shine in Europe.

But within two seasons, Emmanuel Imanishimwe has won their hearts with his superlative performance. He is now arguably among the best left -backs on the African continent.

Before Imanishimwe left for Morocco, he was aware that a big number of Rwandan players don't last long at foreign clubs due to various factors.

The majority of the players who flop at foreign clubs are often blamed for lack of hard work and they hence end up spending their spell on the bench. Some coaches even drop them in reserve teams.

But Imanishimwe proved he is not one of them and being a regular starter at such a big club like AS FAR didn't come by chance. He earned it.

His hard work has really paid off as he keeps progressing day in day out as his work rate continues to improve.

In the past two seasons, Imanishimwe has played 70 games for FAR Rabat so far in all competitions providing five assists. He made 45 appearances in the Botola League, 16 in the CAF Competitions and nine times in the Moroccan King's Cup.

ALSO READ: Imanishimwe set for Rwf430m move to FAR Rabat

The Rwanda international is a modern left-back with various credentials which makes him very unique. He is very good in going forward with his overlapping runs down the flanks whereas he is also excellent in defending.

Whether FAR Rabat are playing a flat four at the back or 3:5:2 with the laterals being used as wing-backs, Imanishimwe is always their first choice.

The rise of the former APR defender did not come on a silver platter. Born in Kigali, on February 2, 1995, Imanishimwe featured for ASPOR FC before he caught the attention of Rayon Sports who eventually signed him in 2014. He proved his worth with the Blues with some breathtaking performances before being snapped up by APR in October, 2016.

He was an integral part of APR's fortunes for five years, winning the league on four occasions and a Peace Cup.

Though APR never qualified for the Group stages of the CAF Champions League over the past decade as they always got knocked out in the preliminaries, various clubs on the continent took notice of Imanishimwe's talent.

Moroccan giants AS FAR Rabat showed great interest in him and in August 2021, reached an agreement to pay the army side an amount of $430,000 (about Rwf 430 million) to sign him on a three-year deal.

ALSO READ: Imanishimwe shines as FAR Rabat hold WAC to maintain top spot

Northern Africa has been a Waterloo for many players from West and Eastern Africa as they struggle to adapt to their system of play, culture among others. Players normally fail to glitter and within a short time their deal is terminated and they are sent back home.

Imanishimwe has, however, been able to assimilate into the culture, food and their system of play. He is shining and his output even led FAR Rabat to sign his fellow countryman Thierry Manzi last season although he couldn't make the mark and his contract was terminated.

Only a few left-backs, or none, on the African continent have been more consistent over the past two seasons than Imanishimwe. He has really marketed himself and the Rwandan League as well. He has shown that there are great individual players in Rwanda who can compete with the best on the continent if given the chance.

Concerning his international football exploits, Imanishimwe has been ever present since earning his debut Amavubi callup on September 3, 2016 in an AFCON qualifier against Ghana at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi where he replaced Dominic Savio Nshuti in the 92nd minute.

He has gone on to make 34 appearances in the national team and he remains one of coach Carlos Alos' key men. Hopefully, a qualification to the next AFCON in Cote D'Ivoire by Rwanda will further enhance the defender's growing reputation.

Imanishimwe has already attained cult status in Morocco and the rest of the continent have now come to know him. He is among the main reasons why FAR Rabat are in pole position to win their first league title this season since 2007.

Certainly, he has proven to be the best Rwandan player abroad and the torch bearer of the country's foreign based players in two seasons.

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