8 December 2012

Uganda/Kenya: Cecafa Cup Final Showdown On Today

So it's finally here; another CECAFA Tusker Cup final that's a modern-day re-enactment of East Africa's greatest rivalries in history.

Today's fixture between Uganda Cranes and Kenya's Harambee Stars at Namboole Stadium is as massive and explosive as you would ever see.

But what the hell is it about these matches that shreds nerves and causes so much anxiety? If it isn't hatred then it's purely down to pride.

If it wasn't for pride, then where was the logic behind Kenya's desperate fight for a goalless draw last year and subsequent celebrations over Uganda's failure to qualify for the 2012 Nations Cup finals in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea?

Events of that fateful night still hurt the over 50,000 fans that watched in horror as what had been a promising qualifying campaign culminated into disaster.

A lot of water has since passed under the bridge and the two nations will confront each other with the same objective this time - 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 have beaten their rivals at every stage they have clashed in previous meetings over the last three years ago, including the 2008 CECAFA final.

But reassuring though this maybe, Ugandans are aware that this counts for nothing when it comes to derby matches.

In derbies, passion and emotions often spill over at the expense of mental strength and tactical play.

Cool heads will be needed, along with giant hearts.

To represent Uganda is one thing, to achieve something for your country is another thing and for the majority of youngsters roped into the Cranes side to achieve something that most haven't won yet will be enough motivation.

"We will consider the same strategy that has brought us to the final and there is plenty of determination in camp to win it," Cranes captain Hassan Wasswa stated.

So while Cranes' players must perform at the very peak of their powers, the coaching staff must be spot-on with major selection decisions.

Williamson's plan must highlight the menace of Kenya's players such as lethal striker Mike Baraza, Kevin Omondi and Paul Were and ideally allows no room for either to dictate the tempo of the match.

Throughout training, Williamson stressed the importance of keeping the ball and, for the long periods when Kenya have it, to "stay compact and keep the shape" and pressurise their creative zephyrs.

If Kevin Omondi eludes Moses Oloya on Cranes' right, Denis Iguma will be in close attendance to tackle the danger. If Were beats Joseph Ochaya on the other flank, Walusimbi will be there in a flash, sirens blazing.

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

Among Williamson's several other instructions will be do not concede corners or free-kicks within 25 yards of Hamza Muwonge's goal. Cranes must have replayed their previous group game where David Owino's throws were devastating.

Baraza missed that meeting due to illness but should be the other concern from set-pieces. It will be less of a worry if Muwonge doesn't venture off his line and if the back four keep mistakes to a minimum.

Today, 6pm, Live on SS9E

Uganda v Kenya

Third-place play-off, 3pm

Zanzibar v Tanzania

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