By James Bakama
WITH the Africa Nations Championship drawing to a close, the focus in African football will next week shift to club competition.
Our champions KCCA take on Sudanese giants El Merriekh in the Orange Champions League. Uganda’s other representatives Victoria University travel to Congo for a Confederation Cup date with CS Don Bosco.
The good news is that both first leg matches will be away. Finishing at home not only has the hosts working towards a specific target, but also comes with the benefits of home support.
Both away encounters are scheduled for the weekend of February 7-9. If you factor in issues like travel, then the two sides have just a week to be in shape.
So, are KCCA and Victoria University set for the challenge? If international exposure is anything to go by, then I would say the clubs are quite prepared.
Victoria, set to make their maiden appearance in the CAF race, couldn’t have asked for a better tune-up.
With eight players on Uganda’s Africa Nations Championship team, Victoria formed the bulk of our side in South Africa.
In Cape Town we came up against some of the best sides on the continent.
In Burkina Faso, Victoria’s Benjamin Ochan, Denis Iguma, Isaac Muleme, Savio Kabugo and Simon Okwi faced Africa Cup of Nations runners-up.
Morocco, dominated by players from Raja Cassablanca, still fresh from the Club World Cup, and Zimbabwe also added value to Uganda.
KCCA haven’t been sleeping either. Besides the CHAN experience where they had Brian Majwega, Hassan Wasswa and Ivan Ntege, they also featured in the Mapinduzi Cup triumphing over some of East Africa’s best clubs.
That might appear impressive. But it is the much smaller things that always let us down.
For instance don’t be surprised if Kampala City Authority is yet to release money for the team’s final preparations and travel to Sudan.
By now, the two sides should have also dispatched advance parties to Omdurman and Lubumbashi to ensure that basics like hotel, transport, training and feeding are sorted out.
Such measures are supposed to ensure that the usual excuses of tiring bus trips, noisy hotels, bad food or bumpy training grounds are not repeated.
Such due diligence is the mark of serious sides. That the two sides come from neighbouring states, even places us in an even better position to prepare.
For starters, KCCA and Victoria University could do with some tips from players like Mike Mutyaba and Godfrey Walusimbi. Mutyaba was a big name at El Merriekh and Don Bosco while Walusimbi also had some time with DR. Congo team.
It’s such preparation that made Express and Villa fly high two decades ago.