Kampala — Both Moses Basena and Antoine Hey know that their respective teams' appearance at next year's Africa Nations Championship (Chan) in Kenya could be hugely determined by events at St Mary's Stadium, Kitende on Saturday.
Rwanda prepared for this encounter with a 2-1 friendly victory over Sudan on Monday while Uganda had a lowly 2-2 affair with visiting Tanzanian side, Azam FC, the following day.
Uganda welcome Rwanda to this weekend's clash knowing that victory at home will lay great ground to complete the job the following weekend in Kigali, and book their slot at the finals for the fourth successive time.
"We are fully focused on the Saturday game which we want to win to give us an advantage going into the return leg," emphasised Basena, the Uganda Cranes coach.
"However, it should be remembered that a Rwanda game has never been easy. Historically, Rwanda and Kenya are always some of our toughest games. But our concentration is high in all aspects and that is what matters."
Indeed, while Uganda - who last lost to Rwanda in the 2007 Cecafa Cup- go into Saturday's match as clear favourites, encounters involving the two arch-rivals have generally been close. Uganda have won 14 times, while Rwanda on 10 occasions.
No wonder Hey, the Rwanda coach, is fancying his side's chances after the Amavubi beat Sudan in a friendly on Monday.
"The game has given us a clear picture of the kind of players to use for the Uganda game and we hope the experience picked here will be beneficial in our third round qualifier against Uganda," Hey told The New Times of Rwanda.
The Amavubi, earlier expected in the country yesterday, will now arrive in Kampala today.
"All in all, it was a good test and it gave the players a lot of confidence. We have a couple of more training sessions before we play Uganda. We hope for a good result on Saturday."
Rwanda are hoping to make their third appearance in Africa's second biggest international tournament, which is reserved for only players featuring in their respective domestic leagues.
Third round winners will represent Eastern and Central African Zone at next year's finals tournament in Kenya - along with the host country.
Goalkeepers: Isma Watenga (Vipers SC), Keni Saidi (Proline), Tom Ikara (Kirinya Jinja SS), Benjamin Ochan (KCCA)
Rest of the squad: Nicholas Wadada (Vipers SC), John Adriko (SC Villa), Isaac Muleme (KCCA), Timothy Awany (KCCA FC), Toha Rashid (Onduparaka), Savio Kabugo (Proline), Bernard Muwanga (SC Villa), Moses Waisswa (Vipers SC), Deus Bukenya (Vipers SC), Nicholas Kasozi (Synergy), Mutyaba Muzamir (KCCA), Paul Musamali (KCCA), Paul Mucureezi (KCCA), Simon Sserunkuma Simon (SC VIlla), Derrick Nsibambi (KCCA), Tom Masiko (Vipers SC), Shaban Muhammad (Onduparaka), Frank Tumwesigye (Vipers SC), Shafiq Kagimu (URA), Erisa Ssekisambu (Vipers SC)
Monday: Rwanda 2-1 Sudan (Dominic Nshuti, Bernabe Mubumbyi, Saifedin Maki)
Tuesday: Uganda 2-2 Azam FC (45' Junior Waziri, 52' Nicholas Wadada, 80' Joseph Kimwaga, 89' Muzamiru Mutyaba)
2018 Chan qualification, final round
Aug 12: Uganda Vs. Rwanda
Aug 18: Rwanda Vs. Uganda
2018 Russia World Cup qualification
Aug 31: Uganda Vs. Egypt
Sept 5: Egypt Vs. Uganda
Group E standings
Egypt 2 2 0 0 4 1 3 6
Uganda 2 1 1 0 1 0 1 4
Ghana 2 0 1 1 0 2 -2 1
Congo 2 0 0 2 1 3 -2 0