When Peter Magona took on the wheels of being Rugby Cranes’ tactician, he received a warm reception as his side defeated Kenya 17-16 away at Kasarani Stadium in the 2013 Elgon Cup first leg.
A year later, Magona is yet to register any other positive result. He lost the second leg 19-13 to hand Kenya the title and has further seen his side descend from Confederation of Africa Rugby (CAR) tier 1A to tier 1C — thanks to four more defeats.
Five losses in a row are enough to bring up an aura of discontent around Magona’s tactics among fans and local body Uganda Rugby Union (URU).
The poor run has sunk deep down into the fraternity that when Brian Odong leads the Rugby Cranes out of the dugout, they will need nothing short of victory for this year’s Elgon Cup first leg at Kyadondo on Saturday.
“Kenya and Uganda have had so many rough battles,” admitted Odong. “We start on the back foot.” For every fan, Magona and players on the field, any victory will be enough to let their nerves loose but, Kenya – seven-time winners of the two-event, always bring the best out of Uganda. “We are ready for the game,” Magona said in an interview with NTV.
There is also need to bury the horror of last month’s Africa Cup 1B event in Tunisia when the Rugby Cranes lost to Ivory Coast and Senegal by a combined four points. Dominique Habimana will tutor the tourists as none of the 23 here took part in Kenya’s failed bid to qualify for the 2015 Rugby World Cup when they finished behind Namibia and Zimbabwe in Madagascar earlier this week.
Needing to win its final match against host Madagascar by 53 points, Namibia won 89-10 and sealed a place in the World Cup in England next year in Pool C beside New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga and Georgia. Kenya, having beaten Namibia, was in pole position to qualify for its first World Cup, needing only a bonus point, but it didn’t claim anything in a 28-10 loss to Zimbabwe.
ELGON CUP – 1ST LEG SATURDAY AT KYADONDO
MEN: Uganda vs Kenya (4.30pm)
RUGBY CRANES LAST SIX RESULTS
Kenya 16-17 Uganda (Elgon cup)
Uganda 13-19 Kenya (Elgon Cup)
Kenya 52-11 Uganda (CAR)
Madagascar 38-24 Uganda (CAR)
Uganda 19-22 Ivory Coast (CAR)
Senegal 32-33 Uganda (CAR)
PROBABLE STARTING 15: Brian Odong, Paul Sserunjogi, Martial Tchumkam, Ezekeil Okol, Romano Ogwal, Ronald Musajja, Andrew Olweny, Marvin Odongo, Davis Kiwalabye, Chris Lubanga, Jonathan Onen, Michael Tamale, Oscar Kalyango, Justin Kimono, Joseph Aredo
REPLACEMENTS: Syrus Wathum, Timothy Kabonero, Denis Mugambe, John Wandicho, Brian Asaaba, Asuman Mugerwa, Arthur Mukama, Ivan Markmot, Patrick Leku, Lawrence Wakabi, Solomon Okia