Whenever East Africans nations face, there is always a pick-out storyline that pumps up the volume in the build-up to the match.
Like in soccer where Serbian Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojević coached both Rwanda before changing base to Uganda’s camp, Kenyan gaffer Martin Suji is the man standing between Uganda and Rwanda’s derby duel today at the ongoing International Cricket Council (ICC) Men’s T20 Sub Regional World Cup Qualifier in Kigali.
The two rivalling neighbours exchange pleasantries this afternoon at the Integrated Polytechnic Regional Centre (IPRC) Oval in Kicukiro with a goal of notching the lone spot at next month’s Africa Finals – also to be hosted by Rwanda.
Coach Suji, who coached Uganda from 2011-13 and personally developed more than 50 per cent of the current side as well as introduced Cricket Cranes assistant coach Jackson Ogwang to the tutoring trade, could have a say in how the game plays out.
Close to the heart
Uganda remain Rwanda’s big brothers in the cricketing world as per the ICC rankings with the former at 29th and the latter seated in 77th . But Suji believes the rankings are only a statistic as he enthuses that the match is an emotional reunion with some of his favourite players including captain Deus Muhumuza.
“This match will surely leave me with a nostalgic feeling. Seeing your son grow to become a leader gives any parent satisfaction and that is the case for me. From Ogwang, who shares the same status as me now to the players, it is both quite emotional and satisfying. It is a true indication that legacy can be left by sheer hard work and by sharing experiences,” said Suji, who represented Kenya at three ICC World Cups (1996, 1999 & 2003).
The 50-year-old, who also doubles as men’s national coach and technical director at Rwanda Cricket Association (RCA), however says that he will keep it as professional as possible against a Ugandan team that he is happy has gone through proper transition phases.
Newbie and teamwork
“As a professional you have to give your best wherever you go. You also have to appreciate the evident growth from where you were. The storyline of the Ugandans’ growth will help me inspire the Rwandans that I am working with now that they can also achieve such glory and heights. And if we topple Uganda, then that is a sign that we are improving,” added the former opening bowler.
Rwanda have a South Africa-based player in 25-year-old off-spinner Emmanuel King Sebareme, who boasts of First Class and List-A experience at Western Province in their ranks but Ogwang is unfazed.
“We equally have good players. We chose the best 14 men for this tournament. And cricket is more than just a mere individual’s game. We will take care of our space and take it ball by ball and over by over. If we hit our KPIs, we shall be victorious,” said the 31-year-old tactician, who played under Suji for Nile Knights in the 2012 East African Premier League.
Uganda Probable XI
Deus Muhumuza (Captain), Ronak Patel, Simon Ssesazi, Dinesh Nakrani, Frank Akankwasa, Riazat Ali Shah, Bilal Hassun, Frank Nsubuga, Saud Islam, Henry Ssenyondo, Fred Achelam (wicket-keeper) 12th man: Gerald Mubiru