Thursday December 6 2012

Cranes, Taifa Stars in semis showdown

captain of Uganda’s Cecafa side, controls the ball in a recent match

Hassan Wasswa, the captain of Uganda’s Cecafa side, controls the ball in a recent match. Wasswa and his charges are yet to concede a goal in the tournament.  

By Andrew Mwanguhya

By the end of today, we will have two teams from which the winner of this year’s Cecafa Tusker Challenge Cup will emerge.

Zanzibar taking on Kenya early in the day at Namboole makes exciting the prospect of the Harambee Stars facing off with Uganda in the final if the Cranes manage to upstage Tanzania in the late kick-off.

But both Uganda and Tanzania coaches, Bobby Williamson and Kim Poulsen, have this strong belief they will be in the final and possibly lift the title.

“I believe we have killed the myth that we can only win at home as this was a superb performance away from home,” said Poulsen after his side dismissed Rwanda 2-0 in the first quarterfinal on Monday. “…And I believe we can go all the way to the final and eventually clinch the coveted trophy here in Uganda.” And that can only be by beating Uganda this evening.

But Bobby, whose rather wasteful outfit in front of goal powered past Ethiopia 2-0 on Tuesday, believes they are the best team. “It’s gonna be a difficult game,” said the Scot, “Tanzania I think are capable.

We’ve played them a number of tournaments and we look forward to the game. “There is no team in this tournament I fear. I believe we are the best without being respectful to any of these countries. I think they are all good.”

On the team composition on the day, apart from a late fitness check on three-goal man Brian Umony, who was forced off the game on Tuesday with a knock, Bobby is keeping his cards close to his chest but not much will change on the day.

“We’ll see how the players are prepared and judge who I believe is the best for the job on the day,” he said.
“I will decide on the tactics then, I’ll decide the tactic of the team. If we are winning games in qualifying and not conceding goals; that tells me that every one of our players is working hard for Uganda.”

The Cranes midfield and backline will particularly watch danger man Mrisho Ngassa and assassin John Bocco, the pair leading the scoring charts with five goals apiece.
When the two sides met at this stage two years ago, Uganda triumphed 5-4 on penalties after a goalless draw. At the same level last year, the Cranes again came out top 3-1 after extra time, Andy Mwesigwa, who is out of this tournament, Emmanuel Okwi and Isaac Isinde scoring.

Meanwhile, the 17 Eritrean players and one official, who had disappeared from the team hotel in Ntinda, resurfaced yesterday.

They reportedly met Musa Echweru, the State Minister for Relief and Disaster Preparedness and sought asylum. Their other colleagues returned home on Tuesday.