24 November 2012

East Africa: Cecafa - Uganda in 'Explosive' Clash With Kenya

Photo: Mpalanyi Ssentongo/New Vision
Ugandan Cranes head coach Bobby Williamson takes the boys through a training session at Namboole, the team is set to defend its Cecafa title. (File Photo)

Kampala — Uganda's Cecafa Tusker Challenge Cup group fixture against Kenya has been labelled 'explosive'.

The clash between the two arch-rivals that will officially launch the 36th edition of the regional tournament has been considered a platform that will allow Cranes avenge last year's meeting that ended in sheer heart-break.

But the bare fact is, there is no kind of victory against the Kenyans today that will console the over 50,000 fans that watched in horror as Uganda failed to qualify for the Nations Cup finals after a goalless draw at Namboole Stadium.

Where was the justice in hanging on for practically the entire 2012 Nations Cup qualifying campaign, producing remarkable results on the road, boasting of the best defensive record and as a unit, fighting to the very end against Kenya, only to crash at the final hurdle?

Against the Harambee Stars then, the Cranes were simply magnificent. The Cranes performed to their valiant best but it was never enough.

A lot of water has since gone below the bridge. The two sides will assemble completely changed sides for this particular meeting but with the same objective winning the lucrative showpiece.

Ugandans will draw much needed inspiration from the fact that Cranes have not lost a game against Kenya in decades.

In fact, the Cranes humiliated Kenya 1-0 at their own Nyayo fortress the last the time the two sides faced off in the quarterfinals of the Cecafa Challenge Cup three years ago.

Reassuring though this maybe, Cranes know this pales into insignificance considering events that surround derbies.

Although Uganda has always emerged triumphant in virtually in all their previous meetings, Kenya has often exhibited finesse and astute movement on and off the ball.

The Harambe Stars have always physically dominated the games, meaning coach Bobby Williamson will call upon every bit of muscle from his youngsters to strike a counter-balance.

As much as Cranes will look towards a winning start, it goes without saying that Williamson's side will also know all too well that taking an all-out attacking approach against Kenya would be akin to a greedy insect straying too close to a Venus fly-trap.

If the Cranes make one mistake at Namboole, they will run the risk of being caught out. Williamson has stressed that message over the past 24 hours and hopefully it will not be ignored.

They will have to fall back to their old strengths. The concentration levels of Cranes' back-four of Denis Iguma, Godfrey Walusimbi, Isaac Isinde and Henry Kalungi will have to be high.

If the two central defenders in particular stand out, and Hassan Wasswa imposes his game, it will allow Moses Oloya and Emmanuel Okwi to trouble Kenya with trickery and pace.

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