September 6-9, 2014 WCQ
Senegal Vs Uganda – Conakry
To be the best, you have to beat the best. This is exactly what the Cranes will have to do when they face Senegal in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers group J decider. The two nations clash in September in Guinea Conakry to decide who progresses to the play offs. Senegal currently sit top of the group with nine points and just need a draw to advance while Uganda in second with eight points must win against Senegal to grab top spot. Kawowo Sports’ Ismael Kiyonga looks at the encounter and advances reasons why the odds are against the Cranes.
Uganda’s poor away form:
Though Conakry will be a neutral venue, it’s ironical that Uganda will be the away team yet the Cranes are poor travellers. In the last 13 years, the Cranes have only picked maximum points in a qualifying campaign twice. The 2-1 win over Malawi in Blantyre in 2000 and most recently in 2011 when they defeated Guinea Bissau 1-0 in Africa Nations Cup qualifiers. Can they pick another victory in Guinea Conakry? Time will tell.
Cranes poor record against Senegal:
Uganda’s record against Senegal is also another worrying factor. In the previous three meetings, the Cranes have not beaten the Lions of Teranga with the latter winning once while two have been draws. Interestingly, the two draws have come in Kampala and the hosts needed late levelers from spot kicks to snatch a point. Cranes last visit to Senegal ended 3-0 in favour of the hosts. The Cranes have scored just two goals against Senegal’s five.
Choke when it matters most factor:
On a number of occasions, Uganda Cranes have disappointed when it matters most. In 1993, a missed penalty by Adam Ssemugabi against Nigeria cost us a place at AFCON 1994; in 2003, Rwanda snatched a dramatic victory at Namboole to deny Uganda at AFCON 2004; in 2011, Cranes couldn’t find at least a goal to defeat Kenya thus missing out on AFCON 2012 and most recently against Zambia in 2012, the Cranes failed to beat the Chipolopolo at Namboole bowing out on penalty kicks despite winning 1-0 in normal time.
At times, football is a game that doesn’t match logic but history has always had a hand in deciding certain games. This is a scaring factor on the Cranes side as they face Senegal; a side whose World Cup pedigree is way above Uganda’s. Unlike Uganda which has never made an appearance at the global biggest soccer event, Senegal were there in 2002 and became only the second Africa Nation then to reach the quarter finals.
Senegal still unbeaten:
Of all teams in group J, only Senegal has not lost a game in the campaign. The Lions of Teranga held Uganda and Angola in their own backyards and beat Liberia home and home away. Will the Cranes inflict the first loss on Lions? Belief is key.
Can the Cranes against all odds knock Senegal off the top and advance to the play offs?