13 October 2012

Uganda/Zambia: Cranes Need Cautious Approach

Photo: Barry Aldworth/BackpagePix
Christopher Katongo of Zambia (file photo).

There are two ways to win a war. You can either crash your opponent (read Bush v Saddam) or beguile them into defeat (read Delilah v Samson).

Against Zambia, the Cranes have one realistic approach. It would be nice to take Zambia by the ear, lay them on the ground like a naughty student and give them a good old Ugandan whipping. But let's be honest, it's not gonna happen.

The Chipolopolo don't provoke trauma in the Ugandan psyche like, say, the North Africans but they are worthy of respect. Heck, they are African Champions.

That means, if the Cranes are to eliminate Zambia, they'll have to do it with cunning. Zambia are favourites but the Cranes have a fighting chance in this contest.

Moreover their coach was spanked by the Cranes on his last visit here three years ago. The Angola coach then, Herve Renard was on the receiving end of a 3-0 thrashing in what remains Uganda's best performance since.

But this Zambian side is way ahead of Renard's Angolan team that was waylaid on a wet Saturday at Namboole. For one, Zambia are deceptively strong.

How different is the Zambian side?

Renard's team have a veneer of weakness but they are actually hard to crack. They don't have the star power that is in excess supply in other African teams but they possess a team ethic that has been carefully developed over a long period of time.

Their tactical discipline is designed for occasions like these, when one goal can make a world of difference. Zambia conceded two goals in the Nations Cup.

That tells you how much work awaits the Cranes because they need to beat Zambia by a two-goal margin to decide the tie in normal time.

What Cranes must do

The Cranes must, therefore, be ready to roll with the Zambians with the shrewdness of a chess master. In boxing speak, this match is not likely to end in a knock out but a split decision.

That admittedly favours the Zambians, who have more experience and a one-goal advantage. But the Cranes can overcome their shortcomings by playing a smart game. The affair is laden with emotions and the occasion could easily get to our players' heads.

If that happens, Zambia will sense it and pounce. Both teams will be on pressure but the smarter one won't show it.

The smarter team will act like they know what they are doing, like they came with a brilliant plan that cannot fail. It's called confidence.

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