Three-time winners APR FC start their bid for a fourth Cecafa Kagame Cup title against debutants El Salam Wau of South Sudan this afternoon at the National stadium in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
APR has won the regional tournament in 2004, 2007 and 2010 but on all occasions, the tournaments were hosted in Kigali, now the club will be hoping to replicate the same form outside the country.
Only Rayon Sport (1998) and Atraco (2009) have won the tournament away from home, in Zanzibar and Sudan respectively.
As they bid end their curse of never winning the Kagame Cup title on foreign soil, APR face a tricky contest against the new club El Salam Wau.
Dutch coach Ernie Brandts is keen to lift the Kagame Cup at the close of business on Saturday, July 28.
Motivation comes easily to him since as a player he managed to earn 28 caps and scored five goals for the Netherlands national team and played in the 1978 FIFA World Cup.
Brandts said yesterday, “The team is very well prepared and I believe we will be successful in our attempt to win the competition on foreign soil for the first time.”
Today’s match will be the first competitive fixture overseas for any club from South Sudan, a country that celebrated its first independence anniversary on Monday.
Coach Sebit Bol Chol said, “We are happy that it is Salaam here to represent South Sudan. We are grateful for this opportunity.”
“During our preparations we played six matches – winning five and losing one,” Chol told BBC Sport. “We displayed strength to show that we can represent our country well and make our citizens happy.
“What I can say is that we will show discipline on the pitch, and God willing we will get good results.” added Chol.
El Salaam Wau is owned by the country’s police force and has a 15,000-capacity stadium in Wau City, which is in Bahar al Gazar Province.
Most players are serving policemen and receive their monthly salaries from the force, while others are students who are paid allowances for each game they play.
Al Salaam Wau qualified for Kagame Cup finals after winning their ten-team provincial league in Bahar el Gazar and won play-offs with six teams from other provinces.
APR will take on Burundian Athletico on Tuesday and local side Young Africans on Friday in the group stages.
APR FC squad:
Goalkeepers: Jean Claude Ndoli, Jean Luc Ndayishimiye
Defender: Nova Bayama, Albert Ngabo, Jean Claude Iranzi Habib Kavuma, Donatien Tuyizere, Mbuyu Twite
Midfielders: Johnson Bagoole, JB Mugiraneza, Hegman Ngoma, Dan Wagaluka, Ernest Kwizera,
Strikers: Kabange Twite, St. Preux Lionnel, Selemani Ndikumana, Olivier Karekezi, Barnabe Muvumbyi and Maxime.
APR vs El Salam Wau 1pm SS9
Yanga vs Athletico 3pm SS9
By Bonnie Mugabe, The New Times