Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Now or never for Uganda Cranes

Cranes striker Geoffrey Massa looks to the heavens during the game against Togo. Cranes will need prayers going into tonight’s game against Guinea

March 16, 1978; the day Uganda came closest to winning Africa’s biggest football showpiece only to fall 2-0 to hosts Ghana in the final.
Sadly, it has been one painstaking wait ever since. Eighteen Nations Cup tournaments have since been played and Uganda have only come agonisingly close. Not close to winning the title, but earning rights to compete for it.
That wait could end tonight. That agonising suspense could face its extinction today if Uganda can fashion a draw against Guinea in Group E’s final 2015 Afcon qualifying game at Casablanca’s Complexe Mohammed in Morocco.
The needed point would see Uganda move to eight, and in Equatorial Guinea - the 2015 hosts - regardless of the result between Ghana and Togo in Tamale. Ghana are on eight while Cranes opponents today, who they beat 2-0 in Kampala, are level with Uganda on seven. Togo are bottom on six.

Any winner today will progress among the top two although a draw in their respective games will see Uganda and Ghana, who the Cranes better head-to-head, qualify. “For us it is a dream,” said Cranes coach Micho Sredojevic ahead of the tie to be officiated by Senegalese referee Malang Diedhiou,
“It is our driving force. It will be tough against Guinea but we really want to get the best out of ourselves and we look forward to qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations.”
His Guinea counterpart Michel Dussuyer, whose side thrashed Togo 4-1 at the weekend, is aware of the task at hand. “We must remain focused on our game and our goal,” he told local press, “I told them (his players) that victory in Togo is useless if it is not followed by a victory against Uganda. “Uganda concedes few goals. This is a team that is difficult to maneuver but we will have to find an opening.”
Uganda have conceded just thrice while Guinea eight times, including Geoffrey Massa’s brace in Kampala.
Micho is expected to employ a balancing act since he cannot go all out in attack, nor can he set out to defend for a draw. The agile Guineans will punish any lapse in concentration.
The Serb is likely to make at least three changes by starting Godfrey Walusimbi – returning from suspension – at leftback at the expense of Brian Majwega.
Dennis Onyango should retain his place in goal with skipper Andy Mwesigwa, Savio Kabugo – scorer in the 1-0 victory over Ghana, and Isaac Isinde completing the back four.
Geoffrey ‘Baba’ Kizito is likely to replace Farouq Miya in the middle alongside in-form Tonny Mawejje to add more protection to the back four. Daniel Sserunkuma, so impressive against Ghana when he replaced Yunus Ssentamu, should help Mike Sserumaga and Kizito Luwagga to craft chances for Massa in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Danger man Soumah Seydouba, hat-trick hero against Togo, is likely to trouble Uganda the most.

Cranes probable
Dennis Onyango, Godfrey Walusimbi, Andy Mwesigwa (captain), Savio Kabugo, Isaac Isinde, Tonny Mawejje, Geoffrey Kizito, Luwagga Kizito, Mike Sserumaga, Daniel Sserunkuma, Geoffrey Massa
Subs: Robert Odongkara, Habib Kavuma, Martin Kizza, Khalid Aucho, Farouq Miya, Brian Majwega, Robert Ssentongo
Afcon qualifiers, 10/09/2014:
Uganda 2-0 Guinea
WCQ, 23/04/2000: Guinea 3-0 Uganda
WCQ, 08/04/2000: Uganda 4-4 Guinea
Afcon finals 1976: Guinea 2-1 Uganda
Uganda (1 win), Guinea (2 wins), 1 draw
Fifa ranking: 55 - Guinea, 84 – Uganda

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