By Fred Kaweesi
UGANDA'S prospects of claiming a historic Nations Cup qualification win this Saturday will much depend on whether Cranes new-look back-four can successfully nullify Angolaâ€™s two experienced strikers with over 100 international caps between them.
Aside from priding themselves with a rich history of consecutively competing in major competitions since their 2006 World Cup expedition, Angola coach Herve Rehard will mainly place the Palancas Negrosâ€™ hopes on the shoulders of Bucaspor striker Goncalves Manucho and Amado Flavio, who turns out for Saudi Arabian giants Al Shabab.
On the evidence of the star-studded team announced by French coach Rehard over the weekend, the teamâ€™s strategy will churn around Flavio, whose 33 international career goals have seen him labeled â€˜terrorâ€™ in his home country.
Al Shababâ€™s Flavio
It probably explains why the former Al Ahly stocky forward chose to join â€˜Al Shababâ€™ last season.
With 6ft-plus striker Manucho (16 international goals) pivoting around Flavio, the visitors are bound to territorially dominate in Cranesâ€™ defensive half, meaning team captain Ibrahim Sekagya will have to call upon every bit of muscle from whoever will be his defensive partner (Andrew Mwesigwa or Joseph Owino) to strike a counter-balance.
At a press conference held in Luanda on Saturday, Rehard hinted that his side would play an attacking game to guarantee that priceless away win. â€œIt is comfortable to start with a victory, as the goal is to qualify to the African football competition,â€ Rehard stated.
If Alberto Mabina, Felisberto Gilberto and Djalma Campos, who turns out for Portuguese side Maritimo do start on Saturday, it means for Cranes to earn a momentous win, the team will definitely have to play out of their skins.
For unclear reasons, Cranes technical staff decided to drop Eugene Ssepuuya (Australia), Timothy Batabaire (South Africa) and Johnson Bagoole (DR Congo) â€“three experienced players that started both of Cranes impressive results (3-1 win and 0-0 draw) over Angola in the previous qualifying campaign.
Hearts star David Obua and Nestroy Kizito (Partizan Belgrade) are both back in training at their respective clubs but the Angola clash has come too fast for them.
Brian Umony, Denis Onyango, Geoffrey Sserunkuuma (South Africa) were expected yesterday.
Rest of the team:
Wilson, Kaly, Dani, Mingo Bile and Bena (1Âº de Agosto), Lama, Chara, Mabina, Job and Yamba Asha (Petro), Kikas, Minguito (Interclube), Hugo and Pataca (Kabuscorp), Adawa (Benfica), Rasca (Libolo), Vunguidika (Cologne), Gilberto (Lierse of Belgium), Manucho Goncalves (Bucaspor of Turkey), Kivuvu (CFR 1907), Zuela (Paok of Greece), Geraldo (Coritiba of Brazil) and Djalma (MarÃtimo).