APR coach Ernie Brandts reckons tomorrow’s friendly against Uganda Super League champions URA will provide the perfect tonic ahead of the Orange Champions League.
On February 18, the Primus league champions take on Kenya’s Tusker in the first leg of the lucrative competition and Brandts, who endured a disappointing start in the competition after seeing his side knocked out by Tunisia’s Club Africain, last year, is desperate to mend that scar.
In the build-up to the tournament, the Dutchman has bolstered his squad with three Brazilians; Douglas Lopes Carneiro, Diego Oliveira Alves and Alex de Avila Peixoto.
Brandts believes the trio, together with the experienced Olivier Karekezi, Habib Kavuma, Dan Wagaluka and the Burundian pair of Selemani Ndikumana and Papy Fatty, should help the team reach the group stages – something which has eluded the club for the last seven years.
“URA is also competing in the Champions League so it’s a great avenue to rate ourselves before the Tusker game,” Brandts noted.
URA, who host Lesotho Correctional Services in the first leg, will test APR’s defence owing to the fact they have the Super league’s top scorer in Robert Ssentongo. APR will also be on the look-out for Uganda Cranes internationals Simon Masaba and Vincent Kayizzi.
Despite dominating the league and winning regional tournaments, the team has come under severe scrutiny from the fans for failing to replicate that form on the big stage.
“I know that the team has struggled to find their feet in the Champions League over the years but we have beefed up the squad and are backing ourselves to reach the group stage this year,” APR Secretary General Adolphe Kalisa was quoted as saying recently.
Last season, APR crashed out in the first round after losing to Tunisia’s Club Africain (2-6) on aggregates.
The previous year, DRC’s TP Mazembe ejected the army side in the second round of the competition.
APR’s Champions League squad:
Jean Luc Ndayishimiye, Habib Kavuma, Jean Bosco Ndaboyisibo, Donatien Tuyisenge, Alex de Avila Peixoto, Ernest Kwizera, Jean Baptiste Mugiraneza, Papy Faty, Saint Preux Leonel, Dan Wagaluka, Olivier Karekezi, Kipson Atuheire, Ismail Nshutiyamagara, Logba Sery Didier Landry, Mbuyu Twite, Ndikumana Selemani, Jean Claude Ndoli, Heriman Ngoma, Jean Claude Iranzi, Kabange Twite, Diego Oliveiro Alves, Douglas Lopes Carneiro and Ramazan Nkuzingoma
APR vs URA 3:30pm
Orange African Champions League
1st round (Feb 18)
Tusker vs APR
By Ostine Arinaitwe, The New Times