Uganda Rugby Cranes head coach Fred Mudoola has continued his adventurous run of playing a non-typical winger at the blindside for the third successive match. The latest in this run is utility forward Alhaji Manano who has replaced fellow flanker Jacob Ochen.
This is one of the four changes Mudoola has made from the lineup that started in the 2023 Victoria Cup decider on Sunday. Key among them is Innocent Gwokto replacing Eric Mulamula in the midfield. The other changes are Robert Aziku for Eliphaz Emong at the second row and Shakim Ssembusi returning to the openside wing.
Uganda Squad for 2023 Elgon Cup Return Leg (debutant*):
- Starting: 1 Santos Senteza, 2 Faragi Odugo, 3 Asuman Mugerwa, 4 Robert Aziku, 5 Charles Uhuru, 6 Byron Oketayot, 7 Moses Zziwa, 8 Sydney Gongodyo. 9 Conrad Wanyama, 10 Ivan Magomu, 11 Alhaji Manano, 12 Innocent Gwokto, 13 Michael Wokorach, 14 Shakim Sembusi, 15 Timothy Kisiga.
- Substitutes: 16 Nathan Bwambale, 17 Ivan Kabagambe, 18 Collins Kimbowa, 19 Julius Opio*, 20 Frank Kidega, 21 Liam Walker, 22 Joseph Aredo, 23 Nicholas Kato.
The bench is a typical 5-3 split with Joseph Aredo returning to the playing squad. Additionally, Julius Opio will be the last of the rookies to earn his first test cap when he comes off the bench.
Battle for the Elgon Cup:
Kenya are the current holder of the Elgon Cup having defended their title for all editions held since 2016. The Simbas have won the Elgon Cup a record twelves times while Uganda has won it just thrice. More worrying for Uganda is that the Rugby Cranes last lifted the Elgon Cup title in 2015.
However, the last time Uganda visited Kisumu for the Elgon Cup, they beat Kenya by 16-13.
Uganda holds a slim one-point lead from the first leg that was played on Sunday during the Victoria Cup. The 21-20 margin is as good as having a fresh start in the competition.
It is unlikely that lightning will strike the same place twice so that we see another one-point result. That said, to cut the long story short, the winner in Kisumu this Saturday will be crowned champions.