New Vision (Kampala)

1 October 2012

Uganda/Zambia: Cranes Captain Speaks Out On Tie

Jimmy Kirunda, the captain of the Uganda Cranes side to have gone farthest into the Nations Cup in 1978 tells New Vision's James Bakama that for the October 13 clash, the Cranes team have to be solid.

It's been quite a while since I wrote about the Cranes. My last pieces were in the build-up to the decisive 2011 Uganda versus Kenya match which we failed to win to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations final tournament.

We again find ourselves in an almost similar situation, only that the task at hand this time could be more demanding.

We are not only facing African champions Zambia, but also have a deficit to overturn. But like I have always said, there is no team that can't be beaten.

We only have to get our act right and we shall be in South Africa. For starters, we have to be solid in all departments. Our first target should be erasing Chipolopolo's lead.

The worst that could happen is letting the visitors stretch their lead. Tactical organization will therefore be crucial.

The Zambians have always been good ball players, who on a good day tear any team to shreds.

But if they come against organized opposition, they can also be outwitted. In our time, Polly Ouma was one man the Zambians always never wanted to face.

Strikers found beating goalkeeper Emmanuel Mwape almost impossible but not Ouma. The likes of Emma Okwi or Moses Oloya could likewise be a thorn in the Chipolopolo defence.

As African champions, they could be under even more pressure than us. So, they will most likely also go for an attacking game.

One of the areas to carefully watch will be Zambia's striking line. They have always had good strikers. In our days there was the dreaded three Cs: Godfrey Chitalu, Benard Chanda and Alex Chola.

This trio was simply lethal. They could beat any defence line.

I remember them tearing past our backline, which I must say was one of the best on the continent at the time.

Chitalu, nicknamed Ycer after the best dry cell in Zambia at the time, once singlehandedly dribbled past seven Tanzanian players before scoring.

In many ways Chris Katongo's finishing reminds me Chitalu. Our current defenders are good. But that alone won't be enough they will also be need to be extra alert.

Any lapses in concentration will be punished. The first leg in Ndola was a classic example.

One slight loss of concentration was ruthlessly punished with a goal. We just can't afford such sloppiness this time.

Cranes played Ghana in the 1978 Africa Cup of Nations final but fell short with a 2-0 against the West Africans.

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