Cranes, Stars braced for clash
Uganda will hope to quickly forget their last meeting with Kenya here in Kampala when the Cranes and Harambee Stars resume hostilities in this year’s Cecafa Tusker Cup.
The two face off in the day’s second game at Namboole Stadium on Saturday shortly after next year’s Nations Cup finalists Ethiopia and Fifa’s newest members, South Sudan, have squared off.
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When the Cranes and Harambee Stars take to the pitch, memories of last year’s 2012 Nations Cup qualifier in which the goalless draw denied the hosts a place at the continental showpiece in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea will still be fresh in the minds of Ugandans.
However, the cushion for the Cranes is they have for the better part of the last decade and lately had Kenya’s number in Cecafa.
The two nations have enjoyed a well-documented rivalry in Cecafa and Nations Cup qualifiers with the Cranes having an edge over the Harambee Stars having won 20 times to Kenya’s 17, 19 others ending in draws.
And since Bobby Williamson took over the Cranes managerial role in 2008, he has not lost to Kenya en route to winning three of the last four Cecafa championships.
When they last met in Cecafa in January 2009 in Kampala, Uganda edged Kenya 1-0 in the finals with Brian Umony top-scoring with five goals.
In retrospect, the 12 titles the Cranes have won are a mockery of the second most successful team, the Harambee Stars, at five. But both camps claim records do not matter much.
“We have played them (Kenya) before on a couple of occasions,” Bobby told SuperSport.com.
“Like I said we have been involved with them in the past and there is nothing to fear about them. But we have to respect them. This is just another game, forget the past records.”
Bobby’s counterpart, James Nandwa, believes they are ready to take the game to the hosts.
“Uganda is a good team,” he told SuperSport.com, “And they have decent players but we have that as well.
“We have balanced our team with experienced and young players and hope that we give them a good game. All we want against them is nothing but a win.”
Bobby is likely to start with Abel Dhaira in goal and Godfrey Walusimbi, Denis Guma, Henry Kalungi and Isaac Isinde in defence.
Skipper Hassan Wasswa, Geoffrey ‘Baba’ Kizito and Moses Oloya could form a three-man midfield with strikers Emmanuel Okwi, Brian Umony and Hamis ‘Diego’ Kiiza completing a three-man onslaught.
Nandwa will count of the experienced midfielder Anthony Kimani for life in the park.
Gor Mahia’s Edwin Lavatsa and AFC Leopards’ Mike Baraza will be tasked to trouble the Cranes back four if they are to breach the home side’s defence.
Cranes probable XI
Abel Dhaira, Godfrey Walusimbi, Henry Kalungi, Isaac Isinde, Denis Guma, Hassan Wasswa, Geoffrey ‘Baba’ Kizito, Moses Oloya, Emmanuel Okwi, Hamis ‘Diego’ Kiiza, Brian Umony
Others: Ali Kimera, Hamza Muwonge, Nicholas Wadada, Joseph Ochaya, Saidi Kyeyune, Joseph Mpande, Manco Kaweesa, Brian Mwejjwega, Robert Sentongo
Harambee Stars squad
Goalkeepers: Duncan Ochieng (Sofapaka) and Martin Musalia (Mathare United)
Defenders: Abdallah Juma, Thomas Wanyama (Sofapaka), Anthony Kimani (Mathare United), David Owino (Gor Mahia), Joakins Atudo, David Ochieng (Tusker).
Midfielders: Bernard Mangoli (AFC Leopards), Patilah Omoto (Kariobangi Sharks), Humphrey Mieno (Sofapaka), Paul Were (AFC Leopards), Clifton Miheso (Thika United), Kevin Omondi (Gor Mahia), Anthony Kimani (Sofapaka), Rama Salim (Gor Mahia) and Victor Ochieng (AFC Leopards).
Strikers: Edwin Lavatsa (Gor Mahia), Enock Agwanda (SoNy Sugar FC) and Michael Baraza (AFC Leopards).