Soccer

Cranes going for early mark against Kenya

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 the Kenyan territory during the 2012 Nations Cup qualifier at Namboole last year.  Umony, who scored the winner when Cranes beat Kenya to win the 2009

Umony (in yellow and black) launches a raid on the Kenyan territory during the 2012 Nations Cup qualifier at Namboole last year. Umony, who scored the winner when Cranes beat Kenya to win the 2009 Cecafa Cup, returns to face the same side today. PHOTO by Eddie Chicco 

By  Andrew Mwanguhya

Posted  Saturday, November 24   2012 at  02:00

In Summary

Soccer. Kenya coach James Nandwa acknowledges Uganda Cranes strength but insists his side are well placed for maximum points.

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Ugandans will this afternoon quickly want to exorcise the demons that visited Namboole on October 8, 2011.
And as this year’s Cecafa Tusker Cup gets underway, Ethiopia, who have only one regular player from the Nations Cup and World Cup campaigns, kick us off against South Sudan at 3pm.

Then Bobby Williamson’s Uganda soon after resume hostilities against Kenya, whose goalless draw with the Cranes last year cost the hosts a place at this Nations Cup in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

Since Bobby took over the Cranes managerial reigns in 2008, he has not lost to Kenya en route to winning three of the last four Cecafa championships.

And the 12 titles the Cranes have lifted make a mockery of the second most successful team, the Harambee Stars, at seven less.

But both camps claim records will not matter in this tournament. “We are not being disrespectful of any other countries in this tournament because they are all capable, and sometimes it depends on who’s been lucky on a certain day,” offered Bobby.

“We have played them (Kenya) before on a couple of occasions. 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.”

Uganda and Kenya have enjoyed a well-documented rivalry in Cecafa and Nations Cup qualifiers over the years, with the Cranes having an edge over the Harambee Stars. Cranes have won 20 over their meetings with Kenya. The Kenyans have 17 wins over Uganda while 19 of the fixtures between the side have ended in draws.

Kenya coach James Nandwa believes they are ready to upstage the hosts. “Uganda is a good team,” he said, “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, a back four of Godfrey Walusimbi and Denis Guma as full backs and Henry Kalungi and Isaac Isinde in central defence.

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 4-3-3 in a three-man attack.

“It’s a very important game,” acknowledged Umony, “It’s an opening game. It will do us a lot of good if we win it in terms of confidence. We need to win the game.”
amwanguhya@ug.nationmedia.com