By Fred Kaweesi
Gotv CECAFA Cup
Uganda v Tanzania 2pm
Kenya v Rwanda 4pm
Zambia v Burundi
Ethiopia v Sudan
The Uganda Cranes will honour former South African leader Nelson Mandela. PHOTO/AFP
When Cranes assemble in their dressing room this (Saturday) afternoon, minutes before their CECAFA Challenge Cup quarterfinal fixture against Tanzania, there will be a moment of silence.
There will be a special moment that will be spent paying tribute to fallen former South Africa President, Nelson Mandela, for his extraordinary and unselfish contribution Ugandan sport.
Mandela passed away peacefully at his home on Thursday -minutes after Cranes had beaten Sudan to secure top spot in Group C and guarantee a knock-out date against Tanzania.
And as the world mourns the death of a man that contributed indirectly to the development of Ugandan sport, the Cranes will have more reason of winning the 2013 Gotv CECAFA tournament.
Mandela had a close relationship with Uganda’s football team in particular.
President Museveni mingles with his guest Nelson Mandela at Namboole stadium in 1998.
Pictures of him waving to the crowds inside Nelson Mandela National Stadium, Namboole in the company of President Yoweri Museveni in 1998 remain some of the strongest images in Ugandan sport.
“Mandela was an angel to the human soul given to the planet. Humanity has lost so much but the memories will remain. It gives us the motivation to do our best in the tournament,” Cranes head coach Micho Sredojevic stated on Friday.
Talk of confidence, the teams’ confidence jar has gone from empty to full in the last so many hours.
Cool heads will be needed, along with giant hearts.
Uganda Cranes take on the Kilimanjaro Stars in an early kick-off today.
While Cranes’ players must perform at the very peak of their powers to upstage a resilient Tanzanian side, the coaching staff will also have to be spot-on with major selection decisions.
Micho’s strategy will have to neutralize the menace likely to be caused by Tanzania’s TP Mazembe duo of stars Mbwana Samata and Thomas Ulimwengu.
The Serbian has emphasised the need to keep the ball and, for the long periods when Tanzania might have it, to “stay compact and keep the shape” and pressurise their creative zephyrs.
Among Micho’s instructions has been not to allow any crosses into the box.