9 December 2012

Uganda/Kenya: Cecafa Cup Best Xi

For a fortnight, the African continent has been treated to some of the best football from the East and Central African region.

John Vianney Nsimbe picks out the best eleven from a rota of over 200 footballers that graced Africa's oldest football showpiece.

1. Ally Mwadiini: Zanzibar

Uganda may have conceded only one goal in the tournament and credit to second choice goalie Hamza Muwonge for stepping into Abel Dhaira's shoes. But it's hard to remember any saves he pulled off like Zanzibar's Mwadiini did. Mwadiini's goal area was heavily bombarded and because of his saves, Zanzibar made it to the semi-finals.

2. Dennis Guma: Uganda

At the beginning of the tournament, he struggled at right-back. His earlier orientation as a centre-back meant that he didn't easily move up the line to provide width. Yet, he grew in stature as the tournament wore on and capped it all with two assists. However, defensively, he has been solid.

3. Godfrey Walusimbi: Uganda

He's the best left-back in the region and it's a tag he has had for the last three years.Although he needs to become more incisive in being lethal in attack with well weighed crosses and passes to create goals for Uganda, his all round game especially technique with the ball and defensive solidity make him really valuable.

4. Joackins Atudo: Kenya

The Tusker FC centre-back is quite a find by Kenya. He's tough in the tackle and imposing in the air too. He gave Kenya's back-line solidity and confidence. On top of that, he was also comfortable on the ball and had a good passing range. He's one to watch for the future.

5. Henry Kalungi: Uganda

Kalungi is a true embodiment of calm and organization. That's what he gave to The Cranes. He was really resolute in the defence with blocks and beginning attacks. His partnership with Isaac Isinde was really good and picking one of them was a real teaser. But this being Kalungi's first Cecafa, he gets the nod.

6. Haruna Niyonzima: Rwanda

He's arguably East Africa's best creative midfielder. Gifted with amazing vision and good passing range, Niyonzima dictated Rwanda's play with agility and flamboyancy. However, Kenya's central midfielder, Humphrey Mieno deserves mention for lighting up the tournament with his gallant and majestic display in central midfield.

7. Moses Oloya: Uganda

Quality wingers aren't many in the region these days, which is why Oloya stood unchallenged in this Cecafa. He tagged the line well and with his speed and fancy foot-work, he stretched defences and was hard to cope with. He gave Cranes impetus going forward and that's why he played a hand in many of Cranes goals.

8. Geoffrey Kizito: Uganda

Kizito has been quite a revelation since his Cranes debut against Zambia in Ndola in September. With his energy and mobility, he has been a real midfield dynamo covering every inch of grass. He has also tried to acquit himself as a play-maker in picking his on-running forwards with defence-splitting passes. Besides, because of his late runs, he scored two good goals too.

9. John Bocco: Tanzania

Without the TP Mazembe based forward Mbwana Samatta, Bocco carried the burden of the nation as a lone striker. He took this within his stride scoring five goals. Because of his big frame, he battled with defenders to great effect, as his hold up play was good in playing in his team-mates.

10. Robert Ssentogo: Uganda

The pint-sized forward seized his shot at glory this time coming off the bench to make his mark. With his four goals, putting him among the tournament's top-scorers, Ssentongo's endless hustle and bustle just made him a real nuisance - the best among Uganda's forwards. His unrelenting approach had one SuperSport commentator nickname him the 'flea' and indeed no one fits that billing like he does.

11. Mrisho Ngasa: Tanzania

Save for the stinker of a match he had in the semi-final against Uganda, Ngasa ran all previous opponents rugged and into the ground; something Tanzania banked on to open up opposing defences. He helped Tanzania's counter-attacking game work. He was the creative element in attack for Tanzania and also scored goals.

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