What: 2015 AFCON second round qualifier 1st Leg, Uganda Vs Mauritania
Venue: Mandela National Stadium, Namboole
Kick Off: 5.00pm
Date: Saturday July 19, 2014
Match Officials: Hood Munyemana (centre referee), Theogene Ndagijima (first assistant), Ambrose Hakizimana (second assistant), Issa Kagabo (fourth official) and Ambaw Yigzaw Bizuayehu (Match commissioner)
Uganda’s road to Morocco 2015 resumes this weekend when they host Mauritania at Namboole in the first leg of the second round of next year’s AFCON finals.
The two nations seek qualification to group E which already has former Africa champions Ghana, plus Togo and Guinea.
The Cranes reached the stage after eliminating Madagascar on away goals rule following a 2-2 aggregate draw whilst Mauritania sneaked through on a boardroom decision that threw out Equatorial Guinea. The Guineans had beaten Mauritania 3-1 on aggregate but were disqualified by CAF due to fielding an ineligible player.
Cranes skipper Andrew Mwesigwa is optimistic his team mates will rise to the occasion and find goals despite struggling in the warm up games against Seychelles and Malawi.
“Am confident the goals will come against Mauritania,” Mwesigwa told Kawowo Sports in the aftermath of the barren draw against Malawi on Tuesday at Namboole.
“The positive thing is that we create scoring opportunities and we are ready to work on conversion before Saturday,’ he added.
Mwesigwa also warned team mates of undermining Mauritania basing on FIFA rankings urging that rankings don’t usually reflect on happenings on the pitch.
“I am not a fan of FIFA rankings as they rarely reflect what happens on the pitch. There are so many lowly ranked sides but in real sense, they are strong on the pitch thus we shall approach Mauritania in a similar manner we would have done against Equatorial Guinea.”
Mauritania Coach Patrice Neveu expects a tough tie but says his side is much improved from the one Cranes thrashed 3-0 in a friendly.
“We’ve played against Uganda before and lost to them 3-0. We lost against a very good team. So we expect a tough game (on Saturday),” Neveu told Supersport.com
“But we have improved a great deal since that loss,” he added in French through an interpreter. “We are now a different team and we are confident we can get a good result.”

Uganda Cranes Team News:
The Cranes will be without a number of key players for the game. Tonny Mawejje, Dan Sserunkuma and Henry Kalungi (left out of the squad due to impending transfers), Aucho Khalid (suspension) and midfielder Mike Azira (club duty) are all out of the game.

Good news though is the return of left fullback Godfrey Walusimbi from suspension. The Gor Mahia star missed both games against Madagascar after his red card against Senegal in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.

How will The Cranes Lineup?
Mulitin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic is expected to stick with Denis Onyango in goal after the South Africa based goalie kept a clean sheet in the return match against Madagascar. This implies that Robert Odongkara who has been used in the two friendlies against Seychelles and Malawi will deputize.

Walusimbi is expected to be the only change in the back four from the team that won 1-0 against Madagascar with Denis Iguma, Andrew Mwesigwa and Isaac Isinde maintaining their slots.

In midfield, Geoffrey ‘Baba’ Kizito and Ivan Ntege are expected to play as the holding two midfielders whilst Moses Oloya and Brian Majwega to feature on the right and left side of midfield respectively.

Upfront, Brian Umony maybe preferred ahead Yanga SC striker Emmanuel Okwi after the latter sat out most of the training sessions days preceding the game due to a bout of Malaria.

Besides, Okwi missed the two warm up games against Seychelles and Malawi.

Man to watch – Geoffrey Massa:
The Pretoria University striker netted the only goal in the win over Madagascar to secure ‘The Cranes’ slot at the stage and will still be expected to lead the hunt for goals against Mauritania.

Besides, he has always netted important goals for the team despite his profligacy in front of goal; something that has created a hate/love relationship between him and the fans. He will be Cranes main man if the team is to overcome their tricky opponents.
Uganda Cranes Probable XI (4-4-2):
Denis Onyango (GK), Denis Guma, Godfrey Walusimbi, Andrew Mwesigwa (c), Isaac Isinde, Geoffrey ‘Baba’ Kizito, William Luwagga Kizito, Geoffrey Massa, Moses Oloya, Brian Umony and Brian Majwega.
Mauritania Team News:
The team arrived in Kampala on Wednesday and has since been training at Phillip Omondi stadium, Lugogo.
Coach Patrice Neveu has no injury worries ahead of the tie and will hope his side gets a decent result to build on when they host The Cranes in a fortnight.

Ismail Diakite; the man who scored the lone goal against Equatorial Guinea in the first leg of the first round will be the man to watch.

Head to Head Statistics:
Uganda and Mauritania have only met once previously with the former winning 3-0 in an international friendly in January. The two nations were in preparations for the CHAN finals in South Africa.

What You Didn’t Know:
– The Cranes are ranked 87th in the world and 20th in Africa while Mauritania are 133rd according to the latest July FIFA ranking.
– The Cranes have featured at the Africa Nations Cup finals five times with the latest coming in 1978 while Mauritania are seeking qualification to the finals for the maiden time
– Uganda has not lost a competitive game at Namboole for a decade. Their last loss came in 2004 against South Africa in the 2006 World Cup qualifiers.

The Cranes have struggled to get past lowly ranked Madagascar in the previous round and were only saved by the away goals rule. However, their opponents needed a boardroom decision that threw out Equatorial Guinea to reach the stage.

Though the hosts haven’t been sharp upfront as witnessed in the warm up games prior to this tie, I expect them to comfortably win against Mauritania since they are at home.
Uganda 3-0 Mauritania
What is your prediction?

Senior Staff writer at Kawowo Sports mainly covering football

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