30 August 2017

Uganda/Egypt: All Eyes On Salah

Photo: Eddie Chicco/Daily Monitor
Cranes players train ahead of the Fifa World Cup qualifier against Egypt this week.

The Cranes need to defeat Egypt tomorrow at Namboole if they are to remain in contention for a berth at the 2018 World Cup. But to achieve the feat, coach Moses Basena needs to find a way of nullifying Egyptian danger man Mohamed Salah, writes JOHN VIANNEY NSIMBE.

Uganda Cranes interim coach Moses Basena's charges warmed up with a morale-boosting 4-1 win over KCCA FC on Monday ahead of their crunch 2018 World Cup qualifier against Egypt.

Goals by Emmanuel Okwi, Farouk Miya, Muzamir Mutyaba and Paul Mucureezi completed the rout. How nice it would be if such a scoreline was repeated against Egypt's Pharaohs at Namboole tomorrow!

But this was a depleted KCCA, most of whose top players featured for The Cranes. Probably not much can be read into this result, although from a psychological standpoint, it is a morale booster.

And Basena says his players have the belief and there is a feel-good factor in the team to keep the World Cup dream alive. Enthusiasm is burning especially amongst the forwards.

Although Miya missed a penalty, his assist for Okwi's goal and combinations playing off Derrick Nsibambi were impressive.

The trio's clever movement was tremendous, allowing midfielders Hassan Wasswa and Khalid Aucho to shoot on goal.

Such an imposing display is what Basena believes can give the Cranes headway against Egypt. But it will be another task when they face highly-ranked Egypt. This will be the second time The Cranes and Egypt face off in a competitive game this year.

Given time on the ball, the Pharaohs are dangerous and can easily pick one.

The Cranes, who held Ghana Black Stars to a goalless draw and beat Congo-Brazzaville 1-0, are yet to concede a goal in these qualifiers, a confirmation that their defence has been reliable.

But they face the Pharaohs, who have scored in both their games, including away from home against Congo-Brazzaville, and boast one of the best attackers in Liverpool's Mohamed Salah.

The Pharaohs have beaten The Cranes in eight encounters, including friendly tournaments, since 2005.

The Egyptians' last visit to Kampala in 1995 during the 1996 Afcon qualifiers ended goalless.

When the Egyptian under-23s visited for the 2016 Olympic qualifier in 2015, their 2-1 win at Namboole actually flattered the Kobs.

Uganda may not have a pretty record against Egypt but there is hope since her clubs such as KCCA recently beat El-Masry 1-0 in the Caf Confederation Cup. So, this could be The Cranes' chance to turn the tide against her nemesis.

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