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What: 2015 AFCON 1st leg Qualifier (2nd round), Madagascar Vs Uganda

When: Sun 18th May 2014 Time: 3PM

Venue: Stade Rabemananjara – Mahajanga (Artificial turf)

Match officials: Victor Gomes (centre referee, South Africa) Stevens Khumalo Mothibidi (First Assistant, South Africa) and Sandile Dili Kane (2nd Assistant – SA), Victor Lungwani Tinyiko (4th official) Gladmore Muzambi (Match commissioner – Zimbabwe).

Uganda Cranes’ journey back to the Africa Nations Cup finals for the first time since 1978 gets underway this Sunday in Mahajanga when they face lowly ranked Madagascar in the first leg of the second round preliminary qualifiers for the 2015 Morocco edition.

Cranes coach Mulitin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic is upbeat ahead of the game and has promised to unleash an attacking team despite playing away from home. “We are not going to Madagascar by any means to defend,” Micho told Kawowo Sports before the team flew out to Antananarivo. “In football, you can get a result like recently you remember in the Champions league when Chelsea parked the bus in Madrid but in this regard, we shall look to have a tight defence and our creative midfielders will help us keep possession as a way of defending,” he explained.

Uganda hasn’t won away from home on a regular basis in qualifiers but Cranes striker Emmanuel Okwi is optimistic the side will change this history come Sunday by leaving Madagascar with all three points. “It’s on our heads. We all have it in mind that we haven’t won away from home for a while but this time round we are ready and believe it’s time to change the history. We are going to fight and see we come back with all points,” Okwi who is expected to lead Cranes’ hunt for goals said.

MADAGASCAR TEAM NEWS:

Madagascar Coach Auguste Raux has already confirmed his squad for the duel including twelve foreign based players who turn out for clubs in France, Belgium and Algeria.

Man to watch:

Lalaina Nomenjanahary. The 27 year old Lalaina turns out for France side RC Lens and has the versatility to play both as a left fullback or a left sided attacking midfielder. 

FULL MADAGASCAR SQUAD:

Goalkeepers: 1. Rakotonirina Robin Jean Claude (Tco) 2. Andriamifehy Chrétien (Tfc) 3. Ndriamparany Anatole Norbert (Cnaps)

Defenders: 4. Randrianomenjanahary François ( Tfc) 5. Njakanirina Tobisoa (Cnaps) 6. Tovonay Pierralit (Cnaps) 7. Fenolahy Zenith (Ajesaia) 8. Andriamanalina Lantoniaina (Tfc) 9. Ralaidimy Olivier (Tfc)

Midfielders: 10. Rabeson F. Mickael (Cnaps) 11. Razanakoto Dina Fiononana (Tfc) 12. Rakotoharimalala Njiva ( Cnaps) 13. Simouri Jimmy Olivier (Cnaps) 14. Manoelantsoa Ando (Ajesaia) 15. Raveloarison Morelin Ardino (Elgeco Plus) 16. Randriamanjaka Rinho (As Adema).

Strikers: 17. Rakotondraibe Angio Fabrice (Tfc) 18. Vombola S. Jeannot (Cnaps), Johann Paul (Amieus, France) and Lalaina Nomenjanahary (RC Lens, France).

UGANDA TEAM NEWS:

Micho will be without a number of key players for the tie including first and second choice goalkeepers Denis Onyango (club assignment) and Robert Odongkara (Knee). Norway based midfielder Tony Mawejje (club assignment), Moses Oloya (injury), Godfrey Walusimbi (suspension) and Geoffrey Massa (injury) are all out of the game.

On a good note, skipper Andrew Mwesigwa linked up with the team on their way to Madagascar where they safely touched on Friday evening. In Onyango and Odongkara’s absence, Thika United goalie Hamza Muwonge whose last appearance for Cranes came against Tanzania in the 2014 CHAN qualifiers is expected to start between the posts ahead of Vipers’ Ismail Watenga. Ghana based Joseph Ochaya who plies his trade with Asante Kotoko will fill the void left by Walusimbi’s absence at left fullback. Besides, Micho is expected to maintain the centre back pairing of Andrew Mwesigwa and Isaac Isinde with SC Victoria University’s Denis Iguma completing the back four at right back.

The Serb is expected to field two holding midfielders with choices in Geoffrey ‘Baba’ Kizito, Hassan Wasswa and Aucho Khalid all available. Despite Aucho’s good form, Micho may opt for a tried and tested duo of Wasswa and Kizito. KCC FC winger Brian Majwega is expected on the left side of the midfield with Martin Mutumba Kayongo playing in his preferred number 10 role behind lead striker Emmanuel Okwi with Hamis Diego Kiiza completing the attack as the right sided attacker in a 4-2-3-1 formation that changes to 4-5-1 or 4-3-3 depending on game situation.

Man to Watch <> Emma Okwi:

The Yanga SC strikers boasts of six goals in AFCON and World Cup qualifying campaigns and will be eager to add at least a goal to his name. In Massa’s absence, Okwi will lead the hunt for goals and if he is at his best on the day, there is no doubt Uganda will leave Mahajanga with a positive result.

Uganda Cranes Probable XI:

Hamza Muwonge (GK), Denis Iguma, Andrew Mwesigwa (c ),Isaac Isinde, Joseph Ochaya, Hassan Wasswa, Geoffrey Kizito, Brian Majwega, Martin Mutumba Kayongo, Hamis Kiiza and Emma Okwi.

DID YOU KNOW?

Uganda and Madagascar will be meeting for the fourth time in history. The previous three have ended in two wins and one loss for Uganda. – The previous meetings ended Madagascar 1-0 Uganda (10/4/83 Afcon Qualifiers), Uganda 2-1 Madagascar (24/4/83 Afcon Qualifiers) and Uganda 5-0 Madagascar (24/7/65 All-Africa Games).

Uganda’s last appearance at the competition came in 1978

Uganda has been at the Nations Cup finals five times whilst Madagascar have never qualified for the finals

This will be Micho’s first full campaign in charge of Uganda Cranes after starting the 2014 World Cup qualifier campaign in the middle

Uganda’s last victory away from home in the competition came in 2011 against Guinea Bissau thanks to David Obua’s lone goal. Before that, the Cranes had last beaten Malawi 2-1 in Blantyre in 2000.

The winner of the tie meets either Mauritania or Equatorial Guinea for the final pre-group tie with Ghana, Togo and Guinea Conakry lurking in Group E

PREDICTIONS:

It’s a game between two sides with a big margin when it comes to football but that will matter less when the two face off on Sunday. Madagascar have home advantage and are buoyed by the their previous double win over Mauritius in the previous round but Uganda despite having a poor record away from home will fancy their chances of breaking the away jinx. For the first time in many years, I see Uganda winning away from home. Madagascar 1-2 Uganda

What is your prediction?

Senior Staff writer at Kawowo Sports mainly covering football

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