When: Saturday, September 8th, 2012

Where: Estadio Levy Mwanawasa, Ndola

Kick Off: 4.00pm (EAT) – Live updates courtesy of Ethiopian Airlines and Airtel Uganda

Herve Renard’s charges will be desperate to start off their title defence on a winning note against Bobby Williamson’s side that is still jinxed for  Nations Cup tournaments finals since 1978.

The waiting is no more as the highly anticipated first leg of the third and final round of the 2013 AFCON qualifier between African Champions Zambia and Cecafa reigning champions Uganda is on come Saturday.

Both teams would like to post a decent result in the Ndola tie to give them an advantage come October 12th at Mandela stadium Namboole when the overall winner of the tie will be decided.

Zambia Team news: Coach Herve Renard has a full squad at his disposal with almost the entire team that played and won the crown in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea early this year. The Champions also welcome the return of Utrecht FC striker Jacob Mulenga to the squad after he missed the 2012 edition due to injury.

Free State Stars custodian Kennedy Mweene is expected to retain his role as the first choice goalie. The French Coach is expected to maintain his central defensive partnership of TP Mazembe’s duo of Stophilla Sunzu and Himonde Hichani at the heart of defence while experienced Joseph Musonda is most likely to start at right full back though Chisamba Lungu is also a reliable option. On the left side of defence, Davis Nkausu and FC Porto’s youngster Emmanuel Mbola are all available for selection though Renard is more likely to start with the experienced Nkausu.

In midfield, exciting Rainford Kalaba, Nathan Sinkala, Jonas Sakuwaha and Isaac Chansa are most likely to start the game.

Upfront, the Chipolopolo have a number of options but China based skipper Christopher Katongo is expected to start. The available options from which Renard can choose his partner include Southampton forward Emmanuel Mayuka and Jacob Mulenga. Others on the squad are Felix Katongo, Chintu Kampamba and Lawrence Phiri.

Man to Watch: There are not so many midfielders of Rainford Kalaba’s quality in African football. The TP Mazembe player has made 52 appearances for the Chipolopolo scoring 10 goals in the process. He is fast with a lot of trickery and is expected to be the chief Cranes tormentor of the cranes with his defence splitting passes. The likes of Mawejje, Wasswa and Ochan must keep him silent if Uganda is to get a good result.

Probable Line Up: Kennedy Mweene (GK), Joseph Musonda, Davis Nkausu, Stophilla Sunzu, Hichani Himoonde, Nathan Sinkala, Isaac Chansa, Jonas Sakuwaha, Rainford Kalaba, Christopher Katongo (CPT) and Emmanuel Mayuka.

Uganda Cranes team news: Bobby Williamson will miss the services of Cyprus based striker Geoffrey Massa plus Vietnam based Brian Umony who are ruled out due to injury. However, Tanzania based Emmanuel Okwi and Hamis Kiiza plus last season’s Uganda super league top scorer Robert Ssentongo are reliable options. Skipper Andrew Mwesigwa shook off the injury he sustained on club duty and is expected to start at the heart of defence in partnership with US based Henry Kalungi though Isaac Isinde is also a reliable option.

The Scot is expected to maintain his usual back line with Simeon Masaba, Andrew Mwesigwa, Henry Kalungi and Godfrey Walusimbi.

Turkish based Hassan Wasswa Mawanda, Tonny Mawejje and Patrick Ochan are expected to start in central midfield while Mike Sserumaga and either of Moses Oloya or Dan Wagaluka are expected to play as wingers who fall back into midfield when possession is with opponents while offer support to the lone central striker when in attack. Emmanuel Okwi is expected to start as the lone central striker.

Man to Watch: Emmanuel Okwi’s recent form in the national jersey makes him a safe bet to get Uganda that important away goal if given supply. The Simba SC striker has netted 2 goals in his previous 3 games for national team. His most memorable strike was that late equaliser against Angola in Luanda in June in the 2014 World cup qualifiers.

Probable Line Up: Denis Onyango (GK), Simeon Masaba, Andrew Mwesigwa (CPT), Henry Kalungi, Godfrey Walusimbi, Hassan Wasswa, Tonny Mawejje, Patrick Ochan, Dan Wagaluka, Mike Sserumaga and Emmanuel Okwi.

DID YOU KNOW THIS?

          Zambia has not lost a match at Estadio Levy Mwanawasa ever since the stadium was re-opened in May this year. The Chipolopolo beat Ghana 1-0 in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers and Zimbabwe 2-1 in an international friendly since its re-opening

          Uganda’s last visit at the stadium was in 1977 in the Argentina 1978 World Cup qualifiers where they lost 4-2 in extra time when the stadium was still called Old Dag Hammarskjöld

          Zambia has made 15 appearances at the Nations Cup finals in 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012 with their best performance being in the recently concluded edition when they won it while Uganda has made 5 appearances at the tournament finals in 1962, 1968, 1974, 1976 and 1978 in which they finished runners up.

          The two nations have met only three times in Afcon related competitions with the Chipolopolo bagging two wins while Uganda has one. (Zambia won 1-0 in 1974 Nations Cup group stage, Zambia 2-1 in the 1st leg of the 1976 Afcon qualifiers while Uganda beat Zambia 3-0 in the 2nd leg in Kampala). 

P    PREDICTION:  

       There is no denying the fact that Uganda Cranes are under dogs going into the game but this only increases pressure on the hosts. Zambia is African champions and need to be in South Africa to defend their title and the road to title defence begins against Uganda. Bobby Williamson’s charges are poor travellers but have recently pulled off draws in Angola, Kenya and Botswana an implication that they can stun Chipolopolo in Ndola and wait to finish the job at fortress Namboole come next month. However, if there is one difficult thing in African football, it is winning away from home and given Uganda’s record on the road, I expect Zambia to win although Uganda will get an away goal.

       Zambia 2-1 Uganda

       What is your prediction?

Senior Staff writer at Kawowo Sports mainly covering football

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