Taifa Stars expect tough Cranes test

L-R: Uganda Cranes players Steven Mukwal, Timothy Awany, Charles Lukwago and Khalid Aucho observe the singing of the national anthem. PHOTO/EDDIE CHICCO 

What you need to know:

The Tanzanians anticipate a difficult two matches against Uganda and are aware that, just like the Cranes, their 2023 Afcon hopes strongly lie here

The two back-to-back 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifying matches between Uganda and Tanzania may not necessarily be the end of the road, but both teams are acutely aware that they could be the turning point.

Both have one point apiece after two matches, with Algeria topping Group F on six points and Niger on two. The top two automatically qualify for Ivory Coast 2023.

Algeria and Niger will also be facing off as the Cranes and Taifa Stars solve their footballing regional puzzle from Ismailia in Egypt, thanks to a Caf ban on substandard stadiums in Uganda, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania respectively. 

Victory for Algeria in both matches would move the Desert Foxes to 12 points, while miracles for Niger would spread the group wide open.

Focus on your job

But coaches Micho Sredojevic of Uganda and Adel Amrouche of Tanzania will not be banking on good fortunes from the Algeria-Niger clashes. 

They know they must do their home work against each other to keep matters in their own hands heading into match days five and six. 

Cranes players including Joseph Ochaya, Steven Mukwala, Gavin Kizito and captain Emmanuel Okwi have all emphasised - as quoted in this week’s Daily Monitor publications - the importance of these two clashes against the Taifa Stars.

They have all noted how “difficult the derby” is, but gone on to emphasise that they are confident the cranes will prevail over the Taifa Stars this Friday in Egypt and four days later in Dar es Salaam.

“The players, coaches and everyone is committed towards this," reiterated Okwi.

It is the same vibes in the Tanzanian camp, who will draw inspiration from the 2019 Afcon qualifiers when they drew goalless in Kampala and thrashed an already qualified Uganda 3-0 in Dar es Salaam.

Shortly after arriving in Egypt on Tuesday after helping his Yanga team advance to the Caf Confederation Cup quarterfinals, Tanzania midfielder Feisal Salum 'Fei Toto' shared similar sentiments as his Ugandan counterparts.

“Of course there are new players and a new teacher,” he said of his side and their new coach Amrouche, “but Uganda we respect them.

“They are a good team with good players, but we will fight like the real Taifa Stars to get results.”

Both Uganda and Tanzania are looking to return to Afcon finals for the first time since the 2019 edition in Egypt.

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