Athletics

Cranes in last stand as Afcon group beckons

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Walusimbi (L)’s expertise on the left will be vital for Cranes today. PHOTO BY EDDIE CHICCO 

By ANDREW MWANGUHYA

Posted  Sunday, August 3   2014 at  01:00

In Summary

Soccer. Uganda need to avoid defeat or lose by a goal’s margin to progress into Group E, where four-time African champions Ghana, Togo and Guinea await.

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KAMPALA.
By now Cranes coach Micho Sredojevic and his side will have shelved concerns about missing influential trio of Dennis Onyango, Geoffrey Massa and Moses Oloya for their 2015 Nations Cup pre-qualifier away to Mauritania today.

Focus is the language now. That Uganda carry a 2-0 advantage into this second leg at the Olympic Stadium in Nouakchott should not have them take the foot off the gas; but rather encourage them to put up a performance good enough to progress to the group stage of qualification.

The road to Morocco 2015 has four-time African champions Ghana, Emmanuel Adebayor’s Togo and Guinea waiting in Group E should Uganda avoid defeat today.

The Cranes will miss goalkeeper Onyango, striker Massa - scorer of one goal in the first leg, and Oloya – who all started against Mauritania in Kampala. Their respective clubs in South Africa and Vietnam declined to release them.
Robert Odongkara should replace Onyango, Daniel Sserunkuma most likely in for Massa and Tonny Mawejje, who missed the first leg, should ably fill in for Oloya.

The rest of the team, bar Khalid Aucho, should line up the way they did in Kampala, with Dennis Guma and Godfrey Walusimbi as full backs, skipper Andy Mwesigwa and Isaaci Isinde the central defence pairing.

Geoffrey ‘Baba’ Kizito and Aucho, who returns from suspension, should provide cover in holding rioles with Mawejje and Kizito Luwagga charged with supplying Brian Umony and Sserunkuma.
“We want to go to Mauritania not to defend but to play football,” Micho earlier told us, “And if we want to play, midfielders are main people to make us play.

“That’s why the return of Aucho (Khalid) from suspension and Mawejje (Tonny) settling in Iceland after problems in Norway are very important to us.”
In the aftermath of the defeat in Kampala, Mauritania coach Patrice Neveu warned that they had capacity to overturn the tie.
“The game in Mauritania will be much different with our own public and a much decent pitch unlike here.

Uganda and Mauritania have met four times with the Cranes winning twice. Uganda will hope to register only their first away victory since the 1-0 win over Guinea Bissau in 2011.

amwanguhya@ug.nationmedia.com