Kampala — KILIMANJARO Stars head coach Kim Poulsen has admitted to apprehension ahead of their mouth-watering CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup quarter-final clash against Rwanda's Amavubi.
The 2010 winners, Kilimanjaro Stars, face Milutin "Micho" SredojeviÄ‡'s side, in the quarter finals of the ongoing regional championship this afternoon at the Lugogo Stadium in Kampala, Uganda on the back of a fantastic 7-0 triumph over Somalia.
Speaking ahead of the highly-anticipated clash, Poulsen said he has a lot of respect to the Amavubi Stars, who finished runners-up in the 2011 edition staged in Dar es Salaam.
"Rwanda are a strong team and we have a lot of respect for them, but we're well prepared for the game and hope we keep on scoring goals as we did against Somalia," said Poulsen during a training session at Kyambogo University's ground on Sunday.
The Danish trainer insisted that today's quarterfinal is going to be a difficult game and they will treat it that way, adding that there is no way his players will be led into believing this is going to be easy.
Poulsen has received a considerable boost going into the Amavubi clash with the return from injury of creative midfielder Mwinyi Kazimoto. The gifted Simba playmaker missed out on Saturday's 7-0 demolition of Somalia after picking up injury when they played Burundi previously but is poised to face the Rwandans.
"He (Kazimoto) is doing well and will certainly play in tomorrow's match," said Poulsen who also revealed that the spirit in the Stars camp was fantastic and the players are raring to go.
Poulsen will be keeping tabs on his slippery attacker Mrisho Ngassa, whose five-goal haul against Somalia put him on top of the scoring chart, followed closely by Burundi skipper Selemani Ndikumana with four. Apart from the five goals in the tournament, Ngassa also prides in three assists.
He believes that Kilimanjaro Stars, who are sponsored by Tanzania Breweries Limited through its Kilimanjaro Lager Brand, can go all the way in the tournament but warned that the first test is to beat Rwanda.
"We have the ability to win the tournament but we have to take each match at a time. We have a great team and I believe in the players," Ngassa warned. The mercurial winger said his goal scoring form against Somalia was boosted by the fact that he played as a central striker as opposed to the first two matches where he was deployed on the wings and is hoping to bagging in a few more.
"I played as a number ten and I did what the coach required of me and that is scoring goals. Putting five past the keeper is a great achievement for me and by God's help I know I can go for the golden boot," Ngassa told michezoafrika.com.
Rwandese Coach, Micho, meanwhile, hailed Kilimanjaro Stars as a great side and said he expects a tough and entertaining match when he faces Poulsen's men today. "Tanzania is a great team with very talented players and I expect it very tough against them.
They are in a more advantaged position than us because all their games have been played in a good pitch and hence they have used lesser energy. We have had two matches in a water pitch and that has really drained down our energy," notes Coach Micho.
"But we will condition ourselves well for that match. In all my 20 years of coaching I have never been in as intense pressure as I have been in the group stages but I am happy I have passed that hurdle and I am in the quarters.
Kudos to the boys they played their hearts out," he adds. The match will be followed by another encounter between Zanzibar Heroes and Burundi. The Heroes sailed through to quarterfinals despite losing 2-0 to Malawi on Saturday