CECAFA Quarter Finals
Rayon Sports vs KCCA
If there were any boys challenging for Cecafa Kagame Cup, they have to grow into men now or pack up and go home.
The club championship enters its penultimate knockout stage with StarTimes Uganda Premier League champions KCCA FC facing a test of their credentials against home favourites Rayon Sports.
The Blues from Rwanda got KCCA FC as a prize for finishing second in Group A behind Congolese giants TP Mazembe, a team they beat in their opening round. KCCA topped Group B.
Rayon Sports have been enjoying huge home support and will count on this to daunt a KCCA side that honoured the club championship for nothing but the title.
For Mike Mutebi’s stooges to win their first Kagame Cup title, the challenge would have come in a more exciting package than this.
And, on the surface, the preparedness of the Kasasiro Boys shows they are unfazed by anything, least of them, the home support Rayon enjoys.
Speaking to the press after training, youngster Mustafa Kizza said the team is not shaken by Rayon Sports crowds.
“We are not intimidated because we are playing a home team with a big crowd, our main focus is to win and proceed to the next level,” Kizza said.
It is easy to see where Kizza is coming from. Over the last three seasons, KCCA has punched high above their weights – or at least what looked like that initially – in continental football.
They even managed to make the Champions’ League group stage two seasons ago, a national record and did not disappoint in squaring up to the big boys such as Al Ahly (Egypt) and Sundowns (South Africa).
“We have played in CAF (Champions League and Confederations Cup), especially Arab countries who have a very big fan base and we still managed to win, so we are not worried of what Rayon Sport fans will throw at us,” Kizza added.
For fans of both sets, the quarter-final showdown comes at an interesting political time. Although many have always tried to remove politics from the passion in the beautiful game, it has never been a straightforward meal.
If any, removing politics from football is like eating Nile Perch—never mind that the Nile does not run through Rwanda so few Rayon Sport fans will understand the intricacies involved in separating the bones from the flesh of the fish.
What is not in dispute, however, is that politics often fans the passion and drives fans into a frenzy. After the recent border fallout and cold war between Uganda and its south-western neighbours Rwanda, this match is just the kind of grudge encounter both sets of fans will want to on the menu to tip their adrenaline on the edge.
Rayon Sport, once the most glamorous club in Rwanda supported by the ruling class before the current government stormed Kigali in 1994 and, with them, the arrival of APR as the most supported club, still enjoys their share of support.
Derbies between Rayon Sport and APR, the Rwandan military RDF founded club, borders on the insane, but you can’t give a bet against rival Rwandan fans going in for KCCA even if Presidents Museveni and Kagame appeared to have patched their differences.