Rwanda: Five Things We Learnt From Rayon’s 2023 Peace Cup Glory

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.