Zambia, be afraid. Be very afraid!
Uganda's prolific net-buster Geoffrey Massa has returned from his injury lay-off determined to inspire Uganda to her first Nations Cup appearance in over three decades.
The Cyprus-based striker missed Cranes 1-0 defeat to the African champions in Ndola following surgery on a troublesome knee injury last month.
"I feel much better now and ready to play. It has been a long process for me to get where I am. I have had to work closely with my club physiotherapists over the last few weeks and I am grateful for their support in helping me recover," Massa said yesterday.
Massa's injury troubles have been persistent over the last three months.
The 26-year-old was forced to withdraw from Uganda's 2014 World Cup qualifier against Angola due to continuous pains around his knee. He underwent treatment but it wasn't substantial.
Massa made a substitute appearance against Senegal in the following match and started the 2013 Nations Cup qualifier against Congo Brazzaville, surprisingly with devastating effect despite playing in both games with the help of pain-relieving injections.
His net-bursting goal in the 4-0 win over Congo defied his health troubles.
He however chose to withdraw from Cranes preparations for the trip to Zambia to fully recuperate from his injury woes and prepare for the decisive qualifier on October 13.
In Ndola, Cranes clearly missed him and team coach Bobby Williamson will be delighted to parade his jewel in a fixture Cranes need a 2-0 result to guarantee qualification to the finals due in South Africa next year.
Emmanuel Okwi led Cranes' attack in the first leg with minimal impact and on the evidence of how Okwi and Mike Sserumaga struggled against Zambia's defence, Cranes will need Massa's pace and energy to open the Zambian back-four commanded by the gangly and physical Stophira Sunzu.
Massa's recovery timely
Okwi and Brian Umony could all start against Zambia and run the channels well like they did against Congo Brazzaville. But the two will still need Massa to draw the attention of Sunzu and Hichani Himoonde if they are to stand a chance of sniffing on goal.
Okwi struggled to match the pair through the entire game at the Mwanawasa Stadium and did not have a single shot on target. Hamis Kiiza and Robert Ssentongo are the other strikers worth consideration in the team's set-up.
"I will start training this Friday. I am looking forward to the game. We will need to work as a team to achieve glory," Massa added.
Cranes to play Sudan?
If Massa is passed fit for the game against the Chipolopolo, Cranes will reap a lot from a striker who in 24 league appearances for Cyprus side Yenicami, hit the back of the net 29 times.
It was a superb return from a player, who had struggled to register half that number in the Egyptian league with El Masry and later El-tihad a couple of seasons ago.
Meanwhile, Cranes are planning a friendly against Sudan before the Zambia game.