uganda zambia preview

Saturday October 13th, 2012 – Mandela Stadium, Namboole Kick Off: 4.00PM.

Uganda Cranes must atleast score two un answered goals to eliminate the African Champions – Zambia

All roads lead to Mandela national stadium where Cecafa champions Uganda Cranes host continental kings Zambia. After losing to Zambia 0-1 in the first leg tie at Levy Mwanawasa stadium, Ndola, Bobby Williamson’s charges will be desperate to overturn the deficit in order to qualify for the finals of Africa’s biggest soccer bonanza for the first time since 1978.

The Cranes eliminated Congo Brazzaville 5-3 on aggregate in the last round while Zambia got a bye to this round after participating in the 2012 edition in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea which they eventually won.

Uganda Cranes Team News:

There are no injury worries in the Cranes camp ahead of the must win tie. Mamelodi Sundowns custodian Denis Onyango who suffered a knock in training on Thursday morning has been passed fit by the medical staff.

Coach Bobby Williamson welcomes back strikers Geoffrey Massa and Brian Umony plus midfielder Musa Mudde from injury. The trio missed the first leg tie in Ndola on October 8th. Though the latter may not be much considered given the quality and quantity of available players in the midfield department, the return of the former two is timely given that Cranes need to score if they are to advance.
Denis Onyango is expected to maintain his place between the posts as the last line of defence but Abel Dhaira is a reliable deputy in case of a hindrance to Onyango. Bobby is expected to maintain his back four that has played in the last four Cranes’ outings with Simeon Masaba and Godfrey Walusimbi occupying the right and left back slots respectively while skipper Andrew Mwesigwa and US based Henry Kalungi are expected at the heart of defence.
Bobby’s major selection headache comes in the midfield as Tony Mawejje, Patrick Ochan, Hassan Wasswa, Musa Mudde, Chrizestom Ntambi and U-20 international Geoffrey ‘Baba’ Kizito are all available for selection. Hassan Wasswa is expected to start as the anchor man with Tony Mawejje and Geoffrey Kizito joining him to run the show in the middle of the pack.
However, either of Mawejje or Kizito will drop to the bench if Bobby opts to go for a fully attack minded side with Mike Sserumaga playing as central midfield behind the two lead strikers in Massa and Okwi.
Upfront, Massa is expected to lead the line in partnership with Emmanuel Okwi with Oloya Moses joining the duo to complete a three man attack in case the hosts go for a 4-3-3 system. However, if the hosts’ technical team opts for a 4-4-2, Mike Sserumaga will be tasked to occupy the left side of midfield with Oloya on the right leaving Massa and Okwi as the two leading strikers. Williamson will have options to call on Brian Umony, Robert Ssentongo or Hamis Kiiza in case of emergency.
Probable Starting XI:
Denis Onyango (gk), Simeon Masaba, Henry Kalungi, Andrew Mwesigwa (Cpt), Godfrey Walusimbi, Hassan Wasswa, Geoffrey Kizito, Moses Oloya, Mike Sserumaga, Geoffrey Massa and Emmanuel Okwi.
Man to Watch:
He may not be a reliable goal poacher but Geoffrey Massa has always been the man that has lifted the Cranes especially when at home. He was missed in Ndola but his pace, power and direct runs at defenders will no doubt be a handful to Zambian defenders. He is one for the big occasion and none beats this.
Zambia Chipolopolo Team News:
Coach Herve Renard will miss the services of talismanic midfielder Rainford Kalaba who has been ruled out after he suffered a groin injury on club duty over the weekend. Utrecht FC forward Jacob Mulenga has also been left out of the squad following the death of his father. However, the latter won’t be dearly missed given he has not featured for Chipolopolo in over a year. The striker also missed the first leg match in Ndola due to fitness problems.
U-20 midfielder Shadrack Mayembe has been summoned to fill the void left by Kalaba. The ‘Fox’ has also added highly rated youngster Mukuka Mulenga to the squad that arrived in Kampala on Thursday evening.
Kenny Mweene is expected to maintain his place in goal with either of experienced defenders Joseph Musonda or Davies Nkausu playing at right full back, FC Porto’s Emmanuel Mbola featuring at left back while Hichaan Himonde and Stophilla Sunzu are expected to play in central defence. 
Isaac Chansa and Chisamba Lungu are expected to form an integral partnership in central midfield with Nathan Sinkala and Felix Katongo expected to complete a midfield quartet in a 4-4-2 system while Jonas Sakuwaha, Christopher Katongo, Emmanuel Mayuka and James Chamanga are all available for selection upfront though captain Katongo and James Chamanga are expected to start ahead of the rest. Southampton forward Emmanuel Mayuka may drop to the bench given his abysmal performance in the first leg in Ndola.
Probable Starting XI:
Kennedy Mweene (gk), Davies Nkausu, Hichaan Himoonde, Stophilla Sunzu, Emmanuel Mbola, Chisamba Lungu, Nathan Sinkala, Isaac Chansa, Felix Katongo, Christopher Katongo and James Chamanga.
Man to Watch:
China based forward Christopher Katongo must be the man the Cranes backline must watch for the entire time he is on the pitch. He scored the solitary goal that puts Zambia in the lead going into the second leg and his movement, work rate and goal poaching instincts are always a menace to defenders.
Uganda Cranes just need to win by a margin of two goals to make it to AFCON 2013 in South Africa.
Uganda’s last loss at Namboole was in 2005 against South Africa. Since then, the Cranes have managed to register wins of two goals margin at Namboole in AFCON qualifiers on four occasions (3-0 Vs Lesotho in 2006, 3-0 Vs Angola in 2008, 2-0 Vs Guinea Bissau in 2011 and 4-0 Vs Congo Brazzaville in June 2012).
In 1976, Uganda Cranes qualified for Nations Cup at the expense of Zambia after overturning a 1-2 defeat suffered in Lusaka with a 3-0 win in Kampala. Polly Ouma, Phillip Omondi and Barnabas Mwesigwa scored for Cranes.
Uganda has made five appearances at the finals of Africa Cup of Nations in 1962, 1968, 1974, 1976 and 1978 which happens to be the last time in their history while Zambia has made 15 appearances in 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012.
Uganda’s most prestigious achievement in the competition was finishing runners up in 1978 when they lost to hosts Ghana 2-0 in the finals while Zambia’s biggest achievement was winning the crown in 2012.
Zambia’s last visit to Namboole ended in a 1-1 draw. It was an international friendly in November 2010. Simeon Masaba’s own goal and Mike Sserumaga’s goal decided the game. It was Hassan Wasswa’s first cap on the national team.
The last time Zambian Coach Renard Herve visited Namboole, his side (then Angola) lost 3-0 to Bobby Williamson’s charges.
If Uganda wins 1-0, the game will then be decided on penalties as CAF  rules for this campaign do not call for extra time 
This will be the first time in exactly a year in another crucial qualifier that Zambia will be without their influential playmaker, who has a groin injury. Kalaba also missed Zambia’s final 2012 Africa Group C qualifying decider against Libya that ended goalless in Chingola on October 8, 2011 due to suspension. 
In case Uganda eliminates Zambia, it will be the second time in the history of this competition that a defending champion has failed to make it to the finals. In 2012, less fancied Niger qualified ahead of Champions then Egypt.
It’s too close to call indeed. Zambia possesses more quality in their team as compared to Uganda Cranes but the hosts rarely lose at the ‘Fortress Namboole’. The Champions will be under pressure to defend their title but the same pressure will be on the Cranes that are desperate to qualify for their first AFCON tournament since 1978. The absence of Rainford Kalaba leaves the champions with a weakened midfield since he has been Renard’s best player for the last couple of years thus the Cranes will fancy their chances. After failing against Kenya in the last campaign, the Cranes are anxious to erase the memories and give country a belated jubilee gift. This is Uganda’s time to break the jinx.
Uganda 3-1 Zambia
What is your prediction?

Senior Staff writer at Kawowo Sports mainly covering football

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