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Ask him any question about Rwandan football in the post 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and André Casa Mbungo will answer you without too much thought-that’s how well conversant the Police FC head coach is with the local game.
Like many exiled Rwandans before 1994, Mbungo returned from exile in Burundi in 1996 and is now happily enjoying living in his motherland which he had been denied since his birth, along with the rest of his family by the former regime.
He may have failed to make it to the top as a player, but since his homecoming in 1996, the 47-year old Mbungo has been involved in Rwandan football in one way or another, and has gone on to become one of the best coaches this country has ever produced, especially after winning two Peace Cup titles with two different clubs in a space of three seasons.
Mbungo says, “I am living a dream but my mission is to keep getting better every day, register milestones and win multiple silverwares as well as contributing to the development Rwandan football.”
Mbungo reveals that, all his life, he has never tried any other sport other than the beautiful game of football or soccer to our North American friends, not by choice but because football was the most accessible sport in his neighborhood.
“I grew up playing street football in my neighborhoods before featuring for my primary and secondary school football teams. Like most kids, my boyhood dream was becoming a celebrated football star,” Mbungo narrates.
The former AS Kigali coach had a ten-year playing career in Burundian national football league, featuring for three different clubs before officially calling it quits in 1994 at the age of 26 to venture into coaching.
Playing as goalkeeper, Mbungo played for Dynamo FC from 1984 to 1990, Atletico (1990-1992) before switching to Flamingo, where he played for his final two years and helped the team to earn promotion to topflight league from second division. He was also a founding member of the club.
During his final season as a player (1993/1994), he was also undergoing coaching training at the same time and immediately after retiring from playing; he headed into coaching because he could not imagine a life away from football as he told Saturday Sport on Thursday.
It’s been 22 years since Mbungo kicked off his coaching career and as many in the local football circles would agree, has grown from strength to strength but he candidly admits he still has a long way to go before he can claim to be a finished article.
Between 1993 and 1998, Mbungo worked as youth football coach in different academies in Burundi and Rwanda from where he took a step higher when he was appointed head coach of APR FC junior team from 1998 to 2002.
After showcasing what he was capable of with the APR junior team, Rwandatel FC came calling and he accepted the offer, which saw him take charge of the second division team from 2002 to 2004 before assuming a similar role at AS Kigali (2004-2006) then called Les Citadins.
Following two relatively successful years at AS Kigali, Mbungo moved to SC Kiyovu where he coached for season 2006/2007.
From 2007 to 2009, former Atletico FC goalie, Mbungo, was in charge of Police before switching to Kicukiro-based second division league side SEC Academy where he worked for three years (2009 to 2012).
Mbungo is the only coach in Rwandan football history to ever win two Peace Cup titles with two different clubs. He led AS Kigali to Peace Cup title in 2013 and repeated the achievement with Police FC last month after overcoming Rayon Sports 1-0 in the final.
The 47-year technician returned to AS Kigali in August 2012 and went to lead the City of Kigali-sponsored outfit to their first major piece of silverware the following year as well to the third round of the CAF Confederation Cup.
The following season, he failed to retain the title but helped AS Kigali to finish third in the league behind eventual champions APR and first runners-up Rayon Sports.
After the 2013/2014, Mbungo was hijacked by Police FC for a second spell, signing a two-year contract.
Mbungo still has one year left on his contract with the law enforcers and says he is ready to extend it for as long as he is still needed. He won Peace Cup with Police FC on July 4, which represented the first ever major trophy in the club’s history and also guided Police to third place in the league.
Mbungo was named the assistant coach of the U-17 national team from 2007 to 2008 and was promoted to U-20 and later U-23 national teams also as assistant coach from 2008 to 2010. In 2013, he was assistant to Richard Tardy at the Francophonie Games in France with national U-20 team.
Last year, he was appointed interim head coach of the senior Amavubi Stars that drew 0-0 with Libya in Tunisia before thrashing the North African Libya 3-0 in Kigali in the return-leg of the 2015 AFCON qualifiers. However, his tenure did not last longer than a month.
What do players say about him?
Rwanda international striker and Police FC captain Jacques Tuyisenge describes his coach as a dedicated man with great passion for football and very strict at times but very friendly in normal life.
He says, “The best way to describe him is that he is very dedicated to his job and always strives to get the best out of his players, he knows how to make his players play as a team and I thinks that is the secret to his success.”
Who is Casa Mbungo?
Born on January 18, 1968 in Kampala, Uganda, Casa Mbungo is not only a football coach but also a husband and a father. He is married to Jackeline Umurungi with whom they have three children-two girls and one boy.
His father, Léopold Mbungo (RIP), had three official wives and had over fifteen kids. Mbungo senior passed away in 1996.
The CAF license B certified coach holds a high school level certificate in construction from Bujumbura and has attended various professional courses in Madagascar (interior design) and France (bridge construction) among others.