APR head coach Thierry Froger has said that his side desires the 2024 Mapinduzi Cup title, following their stunning 3-1 victory over Young Africans in the quarter-finals on Sunday evening.
Froger pointed out that the seriousness they found in the competition, underway in Zanzibar from December 28 to January 13, has awakened them and mounted their enthusiasm.
APR defeated Yanga, who were missing some crucial players that are away on international duties, in dramatic fashion as they came from behind to win 3-1 at Amaan Complex in Zanzibar. The Rwanda Premier League title holders fell behind in the 23rd minute after Jesus Moloko hammered a powerful strike from close range.
Sanda Soulei, who is on trial, levelled on the stroke of half-time following Victor Mbaoma’s great work inside the box.
Mbaoma gave APR the lead in the 48th minute after striking from the spot following the Yanga goalie Abuutwalib Mshery’s foul on Dieudonne Ndayishimiye in the penalty area. Thereafter, the Nigerian striker, who has netted thrice in the competition, was taken off on a stretcher after picking up an injury.
Substitute Sharaf Shaiboub rounded off APR’s comeback mission with an excellent left-footed finish into the back of the net following Taiba Mbonyumwami’s fine back-heel pass inside the box.
APR will face off against the Mapinduzi Cup reigning champion Mlandege in the semi-finals on Tuesday, January 9.
Froger has insisted that his squad’s ready for the semi-final clash and that he knows it will be a tough contest considering he will be playing against the defending champion, who will also be in front of the home crowd.
The French gaffer, however, noted that they will miss their talisman, Mbaoma, who suffered an injury. He revealed that he has already devised a system that will help them score goals and sort out the finishing problem.
“Our secret is to use intelligence more than strength and to have experienced players, despite staying with them for months,” Froger said during the press conference today.
“For me, penalty shoot-out is not an option. But, when it comes, we will approach it differently and adroitly.”
Meanwhile, Zanzibar’s Mlandege head coach Jaala Abdallah Salim said his team is fit to face APR. He asserted that his squad will be strengthened by a newly-registered player from Uganda, joining more than six others from various countries including Jamaica and Rwanda who have been present since the start of the tournament this season.