By Fred Kaweesi
WHEN Uganda last qualified for the Nations Cup finals in 1978, Sula Matovu and Godfrey Kizito were yet to be born.
A month ago, the two youngsters weren’t even in the picture of representing their country in arguably the biggest fixture in decades.
But with barely 48 hours to the decisive Nations Cup qualifier against African champions Zambia at Namboole, both Matovu and Kizito seem likely to start in the first team that will be entrusted with the keys to unlock a jinx that has troubled Uganda over the years.
Although this weekend’s fixture is an opportunity of no second chances, Cranes technical team could just be tempted into considering the pair irrespective of the potential risks involved in case it backfires.
On the evidence of the team’s training sessions, there has been enough proof that Kizito might start ahead of Tony Mawejje and Musa Mudde with Matovu occupying the left side of the team’s midfield in an attack-minded formation that should rip apart the Zambian defence.
A few will argue that the temptation to be cautious is there, but sometimes you can be too cautious and play straight into the hands of the opposition.
Kizito, whose inclusion in the Cranes side that battled Zambia in Ndola was a ‘last minute decision’ and not pre-planned, has convinced Bobby Williamson in training that his impressive display during the first leg was no flash in the pan.
He is more creative, much faster on and off the ball with an eye for that final incisive pass for either striker.
Matovu’s consideration has a lot to do with strategy. His footwork enables him to manoeuvre the ball quickly and create space when there appears to be none.
The key is pairing him with the correct full-back. Matovu comes into the centre of the pitch so quickly that he needs someone constantly overlapping to stretch the opposition, and widen the gaps for him to drift through.
Fortunately, Godfrey Walusimbi meets that. Zambia are totally a different entity at away from home.
They get men behind the ball, making it hard for the opposition and break extremely fast on the counter.
There are few through-balls you can play in midfield as compared to the wide areas where Davies Nkausu and Emmanuel Mbola can be vulnerable.
In Ndola, although Cranes struggled in the first half, they did well by not panicking when things weren’t going for them.
They stayed patient and that’s where they got their joy.
Zambia are due to arrive today and will feel the Namboole pitch tomorrow afternoon.
The Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) advance party to Uganda, led by vice-president, Boniface Mwamelo has expressed satisfaction with the stadium.
“It’s certainly far better than when we first came here. You can see that there has been work to grow the grass,” Mwamelo told fazfootball.com.