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Massive changes in Cranes line-up

By Vision Reporter

Added 6th January 2009 03:00 AM

IN the aftermath of Cranes’ frustrating stalemate at the hands of Zanzibar, Bobby Williamson convened his charges for a thorough debriefing, but with no intentions of the hair-dryer treatment usually accustomed to the Old Trafford dressing room after in

IN the aftermath of Cranes’ frustrating stalemate at the hands of Zanzibar, Bobby Williamson convened his charges for a thorough debriefing, but with no intentions of the hair-dryer treatment usually accustomed to the Old Trafford dressing room after in

By Fred Kaweesi

Today, Nakivubo Stadium

Somalia v Uganda 4pm
Rwanda v Tanzania 1.30pm

IN the aftermath of Cranes’ frustrating stalemate at the hands of Zanzibar, Bobby Williamson convened his charges for a thorough debriefing, but with no intentions of the hair-dryer treatment usually accustomed to the Old Trafford dressing room after indifferent results. Determination, not recrimination, was his theme.

After speaking for minutes about the distressing goalless draw against a Zanzibar side that had been there for the taking, he then quietly reminded his players of their qualities and that it was never in their nature to surrender.

With the mood later best described as gloomy but not dispirited, the Scottish boss then challenged them to prove their mettle against Somalia today in a group A fixture they have to win to guarantee any hopes of making the knock-out stages.

If Cranes’ previous two fixtures (the 4-0 win over Rwanda and 0-0 draw against Zanzibar) have proved one thing, it is that to begin with, crucial changes to the first team had to be made and the team will then have to motor in top gear and not in bits to get the result they need to revive their hopes of progressing to the knock-out stages. Dawdling in second or third gear will not be an option.

Fortunately, Cranes boss Williamson promised to make those changes that he himself believed would transform the side into a more vibrant and penetrative unit.

The Scot’s tactical decisions in Cranes’ central midfield had come under massive criticism, with the manner in which the central park, that included Tony Mawejje, Owen Kasule and Patrick Ochan, was assembled in the games against Rwanda and Zanzibar perceived as the most glaring of tactical errors.

Midfield re-arranged

The revised strategy will have Steven Bengo fixed into the starting team with Ochan sacrificed and Mawejje relocated to the holding role he usually serves better. In the absence of natural left-footed midfielders, Bengo finds himself as the best possible choice to eat through the Cranes left flank.

Against Zanzibar, the introduction of Bengo did not only ensure that Mawejje re-adjusted to the holding position, but also offered substantial vigour and width to a side that had been so reliant on the long ball to forwards Caesar Okhuti and Geoffrey Massa and the fast-feet of Dan Wagaluka down the right.

Williamson will expect his side to play a pressing game, keeping possession and consequently suffocating Somalia, whose strategy will be playing keep-ball and waiting patiently for that lucky break.
“The attitude is spot on. We intend to work on our set-pieces and must utilize possession when we have it. We have not done so well in that area too.”

New Cranes attack
Bobby, once an established forward with English sides Rangers and West Bromwich, has also been forced into the hard-pressed decision of reshuffling Cranes’ attack.

He will go for the conventional 4-4-2 formation, going with either two strikers playing side by side (Caesar Okhuti and Brian Umony), or a lone front-man (Umony) with Okhuti playing just behind him. The changes mean Egypt-based striker Geoffrey Massa starts on the bench for the first time in over three years. The Massa-Okhuti combination has proved to be flat in the fixtures they have started jointly despite granting the team pace and aggression.

Umony, distinguished as a more out-and-out forward, whose instinct in-front of goals is as good as his last game, has been considered the ideal partner alongside Okhuti, whose movement and abilities of taking on a two-man defense have been pleasing.

Cranes line-up:

Dhaira, Masaba, Kavuma, Ssali, Mwesigwa, Mawejje, Kayizzi, Kasule, Umony, Okhuti, Bengo

Massive changes in Cranes line-up

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