NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 19- Rwandese midfielder Jean Baptiste Mugiraneza has disclosed he turned down a move to Ethiopia and Vietnam to join 15-time Kenyan Premier League champions Gor Mahia, and he is already feeling comfortable at his new home.
After leaving Tanzanian side Azam FC last year, the midfielder got an offer from a club in Ethiopia while Azam wanted to sell him to a club in Vietnam but he declined both to move to Gor, a club he considered better suited for him.
In an interview with Capital Sport, the Rwandese national team captain said he was further convinced to join Gor due to the presence of Meddie Kagere, Jacques Tuyisenge and Karim Nizigiyimana with whom he has played with for a long time.
“I felt I would be more comfortable and settled at Gor because they are people I know and my national teammates are here as well. It was better for me to come to a place I knew what to expect rather than a new country where I didn’t know much about the club or life there,” Mugiraneza said.
He stated that his former coach at Azam Stewart John Hall had tried to lure him to AFC Leopards after it became apparent he was headed for the exit at Azam.
“Yes, Stu (Stewart Hall) called me when I started having problems at Azam. He talked to me about AFC and the project he had there but to me, I had my mind settled on Gor.”
“I had played against them twice in the Kagame Cup and it is a club I fell in love with. The fans are great and I told myself I would want to play for this team some day. Here I am today,” the Rwandese added.
He is expected to fill a midfield void that was hugely telling especially after the departure of Ugandan Khalid Aucho to South Africa in June last year.
Gor head coach Jose Marcelo Ferreira is relieved that he will have so many options to pick from with the club having also signed reigning KPL player of the year Kenneth Muguna from Western Stima and Philemon Otieno from Ushuru FC.
Mugiraneza knows the expectation on his shoulders and has promised not to let down the fans even as he hopes in the long run, to steer Gor into continental success.
“I want to showcase my talent and help the team get the championship this season. I also want to bring my experience to the club and blend it with the one already in the club and hopefully in the next few years we can be a force to reckon with in continental football,” Mugiraneza disclosed.
He brings in a wealth of experience into the club having won the Rwandese league title seven times with APR as well as two CECAFA Club cup championships and four domestic cup titles.
The midfielder in 2009 also had an opportunity to attend trials in Sweden with SV Gitenberg, then in the French second tier with Le hevre and in the German Bundesliga with FC Koln where he had an opportunity to train with ex-German international Lukas Podolski.