Brian Makalama Credit: Uganda Rugby Union/TW

Uganda Rugby Cranes head coach Brian Makalama has revealed that his players have the freedom to express themselves and enjoy the game when they are on pitch when the Rugby Africa Cup Pool C kicks off on Saturday, July 10 in Kampala city.

In his 28-man squad announced on Monday, Makalama struck a balance between experience and youthfulness as he gave eight players their first Rugby Cranes call-up. Thus, Makalama has said that his focus is on improving their game reading skills in different game situations.

“My focus is on opening up the players’ brains and minds as well as improving their game reading skills in situations on the pitch. Basically, it will be a game of transitions from defence to attack and attack to defence. I’m letting the players express themselves to enjoy the game and do what they do best,” Makalama said.

Uganda Rugby Cranes training for Rugby Africa Cup 2021 Credit: Uganda Rugby Union/TW

Makalama will be at the helm of the national team for the first time which he has said is not a challenge at all given his experience with management. Makalama, assisted by Robert Musinguzi, stands in the role for Robert Seguya who is steadily recovering in his battle against leukaemia.

The two former teammates at the national team and colleagues on the technical bench have been in constant communication with each other but Makalama notes that their conversations have not been about the game.

“I’ve been in touch with Coach Soggy but not technically about the game. He has a bigger battle than the game. So at the moment, I let him recuperate and hope he recovers well and responds well to the treatment,” Makalama revealed.

The Uganda Rugby Cranes will open their campaign against Ghana on Saturday, July 10 before facing Algeria next week on Wednesday. Makalama has a strong belief that the team will make the country proud despite playing without the familiar rallying support of their fans.

“To the fans, it is a challenging time and you will not able to see the game in the stands. But I know and believe your prayers are with us. We shall make you proud,” he said.

Ernest Akorebirungi is an amateur rugby player and a keen follower of local Ugandan rugby.

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