19 February 2013

Uganda Is Favourite


Ahead of the ICC Africa Region Division One Twenty 20 championship that rolls off this weekend in Kampala, Uganda looks set to defend their title but the Kenyans could spoil the party, writes John Vianney Nsimbe.

Failure to win the tournament, which begins this Saturday, will in the eyes of many be an abomination.

It's easy to see why; since the triumph over pre-tournament favourites Namibia in last year's edition, Uganda has grown in leaps and bounds in the shortest version of cricket. It is Twenty20 cricket that appears to define Team Uganda.

And considering that Namibia isn't playing in this tournament having been promoted to a higher category, the possibilities of Botswana, Nigeria or Tanzania causing an upset are slim.

"As defending champions, we are confident and whoever faces us will have to play really good cricket," says Arthur Kyobe, the opening batsman.

He adds that the team has grown in leaps and bounds over the past 12 months. "With coach [Martin] Suji assisted by former Kenyan batting legend [Stephen] Tikolo, we have improved a lot."

Not that the opposition will surrender easily. Team captain Davis Arinaitwe is a bit cautious: "Every team here has earned its place to play cricket. If we get complacent, we will pay dearly."

Arinaitwe also reasons that with neighbours also Kenya in the frame, Uganda cannot afford to let the guard down. Granted, Uganda has had the better of Kenya in T20 cricket.

In fact, Uganda's two franchise teams (Nile Knights and Rwenzori Warriors) have dominated the regional East Africa Elite League over the past two years.

Much as doing well in the tournament can only be good in helping the team set up momentum for the tougher ICC World Cricket League Division Three.

The squad

Roger Mukasa, Jonathan Ssebanja, Arthur Kyobe, Frank Nsubuga, Benjamin Musoke, Charles Waiswa, Lawrence Sematimba, Khalid Moothosamy, Deusdedit Muhumuza, Shaaiq Chowdhry, Davis Arinaitwe (Captain), Brian Masaba, Richard Okia, Henry Ssenyondo, Daniel Ruyange, Mohammed Shafeek, Arthur Ziraba, Ronald Ssemanda.

Officials: Martin Suji (coach), Stephen Tikolo (assistant) and Andrew Othieno (manager).

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