20 April 2012

Uganda: Elgon Cup Payback Time

The stage is set for a cracking atmosphere at Kyadondo Rugby grounds this Saturday.

Uganda goes into the eagerly-anticipated Elgon Cup first leg against Kenya not only needing to win, but by a significant margin to stand a chance of holding on in Nairobi for the second leg, writes Felix Eupal.

Everything seems set for the national 15s team. With Nile Breweries pumping in Shs 50m into the match, MultiChoice has also chipped in and will broadcast the match live on Super Sport 9East. What's left is for the Rugby Cranes is to live up to their 'Payback' catchphrase and reclaim the Elgon Cup.

Last year, the Rugby Cranes agonizingly fell short of fulfilling the 'Go get them' catchword when Kenya walked away with the trophy with the narrowest of margins. Uganda won the return leg 32-18 but couldn't find three more points to overhaul Kenya's 27-10 from the first leg. It was the fifth straight time the Kenyans had reduced Uganda to bridesmaids.

However, that says only half the story as the Rugby Cranes lacked the stamina to last the entire 80 minutes over both legs. More worryingly, their kicking was suspect and didn't have an answer to Kenya fly half Nato Simuyu and winger Peter Claver Abouga. Luckily, the two will not feature as they are preparing for Kenya's 7s circuit.

This time round, Yayiro Kasasa, the coach, has filled his 22-man squad with experienced players but he may have to do without the injured pair of Brian Kikawa and Denis Mugambe. Robert Seguya, the talismanic flanker, faces a late fitness test but is unlikely to feature.

That said, Kasasa is confident the team is ready to win their first Elgon Cup since 2006. Mathias Ochwo, the team skipper, is also confident glory is within sight: "We have fallen short on a number of occasions but we are winning this time," he says.

Critics are optimistic the Rugby Cranes stand a big chance this time because unlike on previous occasions when Uganda chased the score by hosting the return leg, a win at Kyadondo could reverse the roles and hence enhance Uganda's chances in a week's time.

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