Sunday, 4th September 2016

Uganda vs. Comoros – Nelson Mandela National Stadium, Namboole 5:00 pm 

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Over 40 million Ugandans will for once turn all focus and attention to one place.

Mandela National stadium, Namboole where the Uganda Cranes play host to lowly ranked Comoros in their final Group D game of the 2017 AFCON qualifiers.

The Cranes head into the game second in the group where Burkina Faso’s Stallions lead but only on head to head statistics as the two are tied on 10 points after five games.

In the previous five games, Uganda has won three and drawn once losing only to Burkina Faso away from home.

Although Comoros sit at the base of the log with a mere three points from the shock 1-0 home win over Botswana, Cranes Coach Mulitin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic holds respect for a team that ranks below his side by 90 slots as per the current FIFA rankings.

“We shall respect but not over respect the opponent,” he told the media after The Cranes’ Friday training session.

They have worked hard to see that they improve their ranking from 200 to 155 and such is the team that we are facing. All their players play across Europe. We need to qualify by first thinking about ourselves than them because the nation is hugely expectant.

For Comoros, it doesn’t matter that their fate is already sealed. Team Captain Nadjim ‘Jimmy’ Abdou on arrival at Entebbe International Airport revealed they have all to play for and warned the Cranes against expecting an easy ride.

I am looking forward towards a good game against Uganda Cranes. I know they need the victory but we also need it. We have one victory in so many games. As true professionals, we shall play to our best.

Regardless of other results, a win will be enough to seal a place for Uganda in Gabon 2017 – the first time it will be since 1978.

Team News

Uganda Cranes right back Denis Iguma is suspended for the game, Geoffrey Kizito Baba and Bevis Mugabi opted out while Robert Odongkara was dropped for what Micho described as ‘Indiscipline.”

From the camp, first choice goalie Denis ‘Masinde’ Onyango will have to pass a late fitness test to feature but Micho is hopeful he will make it.

“We continue to monitor him closely and Saturday’s training will decide,” he stated. “I have already spoken that no match is more valued than health of the player,” he added.

Therefore, we shall respect whatever decision is called by the medical team.

For Comoros, they did arrive in batches but all in fine condition and raring to go.

Uganda Cranes Probable XI (4-2-3-1):

Denis Onyango (GK), Isaac Isinde, Joseph Ochaya, Hassan Wasswa, Murushid Jjuuko, Aucho Khalid, Tonny Mawejje, Farouk Miya, Emmanuel Okwi, Geoffrey Massa (C) and William Luwagga Kizito

                                                  Denis Onyango (GK)

Isaac Isinde                          Hassan Wasswa            Murushid Jjuuko           Joseph Ochaya

                                             Tonny Mawejje            Khalid Aucho

   William Luwagga Kizito                  Farouk Miya                                  Emmanuel Okwi

                                                         Geoffrey Massa ©

Players to Watch

Geoffrey Massa opened the scoring for Uganda in the campaign against Botswana at Namboole but has since gone into oblivion.

Nevertheless, it’s difficult to write him off in a home game – at a venue all his competitive national team goals have come.

Expect the Baroka FC striker to do all there is to win the game for Uganda but not just alone, Tonny Mawejje, William Luwagga Kizito and Farouk Miya also hold a key to qualification as well and must be watched by the Comoros side.

For the visitors, skipper Nadjim Abdou will automatically be the main man the Cranes must keenly watch out for.

Facts and Statistics

  • Uganda Cranes last played at AFCON finals in 1978 finishing runners up after losing 2-0 to Ghana in the finals.
  • Unlike Uganda which has played at the finals five times, Comoros has never.
  • Five different players have scored for Uganda Cranes in as many games in this campaign. Geoffrey Massa, Tonny Mawejje, Brian Umony, Khalid Aucho and William Luwagga Kizito.
  • The Cranes have won two away games in the campaign for the first time – 1-0 against Comoros and 2-1 against Botswana.
  • The Cranes have only lost once at Namboole in 10 years – 1-0 against Emmanuel Adebayor inspired Togo.
  • A draw will be enough for Uganda to qualify for Gabon 2017 if Burkina Faso loses to Botswana in the other group D game.

Prediction

The Cranes have been here before. Not once, twice or thrice but still failed to break the jinx. You are never sure with The Cranes regardless of the opponent but after all the heartbreaks and failures, this is truly the time.

I expect a confortable win for the Ugandan side.

Uganda 3-0 Comoros

Whats your prediction? 

Senior Staff writer at Kawowo Sports mainly covering football

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