21 March 2019

Uganda/Tanzania: Afcon Qualifier - Cranes Intensify Preparations As Taifa Stars Rally Fans

Photo: Daily Monitor
Uganda Cranes (file photo).

Kampala — Uganda Cranes coach Sebastien Desabre will have gone to bed last night with a pretty clearer picture of how he will set up against the Taifa Stars of Tanzania.

The Cranes played a warm-up game against an Egyptian side, El Gaish, last evening with the Frenchman looking to fly to Dar es Salaam on Saturday confident of ending the Nations Cup qualification campaign on a high the following day.

Uganda, currently on a week-long camp in Ismailia, Egypt, qualified for this year's Afcon with a match to spare, and could wrap up with a country record 16 points should they close Tanzania.

"We want to be finish with victory," Cranes captain and goalkeeper Denis Onyango insisted, "We want to keep up there because it also increases out chances of being seeded."

With Uganda now having responded to a four-decade absence from the finals with two successive qualifications, Cranes fans back home and across the world will be pushing their team to go an extra mile by advancing from the group this time.

Behind enemy lines in Tanzania, Sunday's hosts' only chance is beating Uganda and hope Lesotho falter in Cape Verde.

Lesotho are second in Group L on five points, same as Tanzania but have a better head-to-head record. The two are a massive eight behind Uganda. All three - Lesotho, Tanzania and Cape Verde - can still qualify on the final day.

Sunday's game is so crucial to the hosts the chairman of a special committee formed to ensure the Taifa Stars qualify for the finals, Paul Makonda, is beseeching Tanzanians to leave whatever they are doing and come support the team.

"All I am asking for is for Tanzanians to continue to supporting Taifa Stars with prayers for the team to down Uganda Cranes and sail through," Makonda told Daily Monitor's Tanzanian sister newspaper, The Citizen. Makonda, who doubles as Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner (RC), asked soccer fans to turn up at the 60,000-seater National Stadium in large numbers on Sunday to cheer the team.

"In football, fans are the 12th player for the home team. I, therefore, call upon Tanzanians to give Taifa Stars the support they need to shine on Sunday," he added.


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