Alexandria, Egypt — Facing Egypt was a daunting prospect for generations of Ugandan football players and fans until last Thursday's 2018 World Cup qualifying game at Namboole.
That Emmanuel Okwi goal in a 1-0 victory over the Pharaohs more than let Uganda Cranes break from a 52-year captivity without beating the North Africans.
It also put Cranes at the forefront of the fight for the lone slot at the global showpiece in Russia lead the four-team group with seven points, one better that the two-time World Cup finalists.
Ghana would then draw 1-all with Congo Brazzaville for a tally of two and one point respectively after three games to ensure that group E could as well be a shootout between Uganda and Egypt.
Okwi's 51st minute strike against legendary goalkeeper Esam El Hadary set back Egypt's hopes and made today's return encounter at the Borg Al Arab stadium in Alexandria a must-win for the hosts.
"The game in Kampala is over and out of the way. We now face another difficult situation. They are going to throw everything at us including their fans. There won't be stage fright," Cranes' interim coach Moses Basena told Daily Monitor.
"(Going to the World Cup,) is the reason we entered this competition. We are not here for fun or to make up numbers. Let's see what happens, every team takes care of its own games," he added.
A win or draw will keep Cranes at the summit. To maintain that, Cranes, the only team across the six Fifa confederations yet to concede a goal, will bank on that defence.
"Be sure, there won't be fear. We will give it our best to maintain the position we have earned," captain Denis Onyango promised.
His South African side Mamelodi Sundowns won the Caf Champions League here last year, beating Egypt's Zamalek and that intuition will be important as Uganda lost 6-0 on the last visit in 1995.
Pharaohs' coach, Argentine Hector Cuper has promised changes in personnel among those dropping 44-year old Hadary whom many here claim is struggling with niggles from last week's game.
Liverpool ace Mohammed Salah is expected to put up a big performance as should Arsenal midfielder Mohammed ElNeny for the record seven-time African champions who have been to the World Cup twice.
"With big teams you always expect a reaction. Big players will give a reaction because they have the ability," Basena commented.
His confidence is perhaps driven by Cranes' recent away record that has seen the team win two of the last five games in Africa Cup of Nations and World Cup qualifiers.
"We are an away team. Our game arrangement will show that.
The most important thing is our concentration levels have to be good from the first to the last whistle," the 52-year old noted.
This is the last of the four games Basena and his deputy Fred Kajoba, for whom former skipper Ibrahim Sekagya has been added, was given in his interim tenure.
Denis Onyango (GK)
Nico Wakiro Wadada
Wasswa Hassan Mawanda
Emmanuel Arnold Okwi
Joseph Benson Ochaya
Ahmed Sherif (GK)
GROUP E GAMES TONIGHT
2018 WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS
Congo Brazzaville vs Ghana
Egypt vs Uganda