Rayon Sports defeated bitter rivals APR FC 1-0 on Saturday at Huye Stadium to win the 2022/23 Peace Cup, their first in seven years.
It was the Blues’ second victory over the military side in 2023, having beaten them in February.
The game lived up to the hype with end-to-end action as spectators who filled the stadium to full capacity and those who watched from elsewhere were treated with quality football.
Times Sport takes a look at six things we learnt from the game.
Ngendahimana proves his worth again
The defensive midfielder is gradually becoming APR FC’s nemesis as he has stood out in two of the three games he has played against them since joining Rayon almost a year ago.
The former Kiyovu player has undoubtedly been one of Rayon Sports’ best signings. Coach Francis Haringingo deployed him in the midfield and, with his huge stature, he has been their ‘Bouba Diop’.
Against APR, Ngendahimana was exceptional as he provided the needed cover for the back four. He first headed home Léandre Onana’s cross to give Rayon the lead in the 19th minute but his goal was disallowed for offside.
He kept his head held high and popped up again to score what proved to be the match winner in the 40th minute.
APR and Rayon need a deadly striker
APR could have scored more than three goals if they had a typical goal hunter. But, with the likes of Innocent Nshuti, Yannick Bizimana and Gilbert Mugisha all struggling to capitalize crucial chances, it is evident that the club lacks a centre forward with dangerous goal instincts.
Coach Ben Moussa was playing Yannick Bizimana, Innocent Nshuti and Gilbert Mugisha as his three-man attack but none of them was in a central role. Bizimana and Nshuti always drifted wide and Mugisha was always seen too far from a central role as he was also dropping back and doing more defensive work than attack.
The same applies to Rayon who could have buried APR by at least 3-0 had Musa Esenu been clinical.
The Ugandan striker has been very wasteful the whole season and it was in full glare on Saturday against APR.
He missed three glorious chances with two of them coming in injury time. It is now clear that Rayon should bring in a potent centre forward who can play as a lone ranger upfront, a natural goal scorer who rarely squanders chances.
Rayon should break the bank for Ojera
The Ugandan forward has been superb since joining Rayon on loan from URA FC in January 2023.
Ojera was the brain behind Ngendahimana’s goal as it came out of his cross. The diminutive forward caused problems for Christian Ishimwe and the flamboyant left-back had to bring him down most of the time.
Rayon must seal a permanent move for Ojera before a rival team grabs him.
Ishimwe’s lack of competition in goal cost APR
The young goalkeeper cost APR as he fumbled to save a harmless feeble shot from Heritier Luvumbu which enabled Ngendahimana Eric to poke in the match winner.
Ishimwe is just 20 years and he has many years ahead of him to get to his full potential.
Goalkeepers are like wine, they usually become as good as they grow. It is evident that APR needs an experienced goalkeeper to offer competition for Ishimwe which can either bring the best out of him or help them in their continental campaign.
Haringingo doing magic with 4:2:3:1 formation
Many coaches around the globe prefer the 4:2:3:1 formation since it has many attacking options and it is the easiest way to win games.
Francis Haringingo has mastered the formation and it is working for him. He has the needed arsenals especially in midfield and on the wings who can get the job done at any time.
Ngendahimana and Raphael Osaluwe just sit in front of the back four as the “double pivot” with Heritier Luvumbu as the schemer (Number 10).
Onana and Joackim Ojera then attacked from the flanks. These are the five key men in Haringingo’s formation and they caused trouble during the Peace Cup final against APR.