Kampala — The Uganda national U17 team, the Uganda Cubs, can't afford to lose to their Tanzanian counterparts in the second game at the on-going Caf U-17 Africa Cup of Nations in Dar es Salaam.
Following Sunday's 1-0 loss to Angola, the Uganda Cubs can be eliminated even before Saturday's final game against five-time world champions, Nigeria.
Head coach Fabin Paa Kwesi is hoping to build momentum in today's matchup against a Tanzanian side that surrendered a 3-1 lead to lose 5-4 to Nigeria on the opening day.
Although the Ugandan teens, who are making a debut at the games did not look bad, the game against Angola was one to forget having missed several chances.
Kwesi stressed that it is a must-win situation and is now on a mission looking for redemption by making a legitimate run.
"Any team that loses is completely out of the equation and therefore I believe all teams are going to approach the game with all the seriousness it deserves. We have done our homework well," Kwesi said during a pre-match press conference yesterday.
Of course he was cautious in the first game but he says that the focus will be on preventing the Tanzanian attack at a time when the last thing they can afford is getting excited about a potential place in the U-17 World Cup in Peru later this year.
"The biggest boost is 12th person on the field for Tanzania but it is your ability on the field that wins you matches," Kwesi added.
In August last year, Uganda beat Tanzania 3-2 to qualify for the Afcon as champions. The must-win scenario also does not spare Tanzania. If they end up on the losing side again, it is only going to increase pressure on their youth programmes.
"We have a psychological advantage over Tanzania. But it is a derby. You can't predict derbies. We need to put in a lot of work," he added.
Kwesi will miss left back Ibrahim Juma, who was sent off in the first game and injured goalkeeper Delton Oyo.