Moment of Truth for Uganda
As the Uganda Cranes start its journey to Ghana 2008.
Saturday Results: Uganda 3 Lesotho 0
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First published: September 2, 2006
Uganda vs. Lesotho
Time 4-30 PM, East Africa Standard time
The talking is now over. It is now time for action as all roads in Kampala lead to Namboole Ultra modern stadium this Saturday, for the long awaited titanic clash pitting the Uganda Cranes against the crocodiles of Lesotho in the group three 2008 Ghana African Cup qualifiers.
This is the moment of truth many Ugandans have been waiting for after the new Federation of Uganda Football Association executive (FUFA) has promised that together with new coach, Laszlo Csaba this is the time to put Uganda's soccer back on the international map. The expectations from the Cranes are enormous.
All the foreign-based players summoned are already in the country only waiting for the word 'go' from the Sudanese match officials, and the morale in the camp has never been this before.
The black, yellow and red national flag Cranes' jersey replicas, caps, whistles, hoots among others are on high demand and the majority of taxis are wrapped with national flags.
Taxi drivers have already warned of hiking transport fares to Namboole, from the usual 600 shillings to between 1,000 1,500 shillings while soccer fanatics have started swarming Kampala from up country to witness the make or break tie.
Companies like MTN and Brussels Airlines that had deserted the team during the Denis Obua FUFA regime are back with heavy sponsorship packages. This is the precise kind of atmosphere in Kampala ahead of the battle.
The team has been in the camp for two months in which they have accomplished four friendly build-ups, including early this week's warm up against Burkina Faso at Namboole, which ended goalless. This after losing to Libya 3-2 in Tripoli, a barren one against Botswana in Kampala and a one-all stale mate with Rwanda in Kigali.
Despite failing to register any win in the build-ups, Cranes tactician Csaba is breathing fire, saying nothing can impede him from clinching maximum points on Saturday.
The impotent striking line has been the key un doing of the team but Csaba is optimistic that he has finally got the medicine after the arrival of the Egyptian based speed merchant Geoffrey Massa and Keiser Chiefs live wire David Obua.
"True, I know very little about the opponents and goals have been eluding us in the build-ups, but with the arrival of Massa and Obua, I'm now optimistic that my locker room has some goals," vows the Hungarian naturalized German.
The players themselves are talking big and promising heaven. South African based team deputy captain, Timothy Batabaire, says they have never been prepared like this time.
"Come what may, they won't survive us. Every one in the camp is ready and can't even wait for the kick off," says the no-nonsense towering charismatic defender.
However, according to Lesotho local daily publication, The Lesotho times, the Crocodiles have vowed to force Csaba and his boys to eat their words after the 90 minutes. But the mood in the Cranes camp is of certain optimism.
Mid field conductor Noah Kasule aka Babadi, just urges fans to turn in big numbers and witness what he believes will be a great encounter that will end in victory for the Cranes.
"We are ready to die a little for our nation," promises the URA SC press shy Rasta man.
SC Villa's new kid on the block, Augustine Nsumba, who has never donned the Cranes jersey in a competitive game of this magnitude, thinks it will be a day to remember in his life should Csaba assign him this Saturday.
"Its every player's dream to feature in such a game, I'm more than ready to take them on if Coach Csaba assigns me. But even if I don't play, the key issue is winning," reveals the 19-year-old talented three-capped younger star.
The Cranes lineup
After Csaba dropping goalie Posnet Omony ahead of the battle, fellow South African based dependable Denis Onyango takes on the responsibility to stand in between posts, sending Police FC custodian Hanington Kalyesubula to understudy him from the bench.
Timothy Batabaire was stretched off in the build up against Burkina Faso, but has shaken off the injury in time to partner skipper Ibrahim Ssekajja from Argentina in the central defense completing Csaba's four-man enamel rearguard.
However, their credentials will be put to test as to how they contain the Crocodiles' lethal striking line spear headed by Batabaire and Omony's club mate at Blomofontain Celtics Lubanjuwa Mpongua.
The absence of the Congolese naturalized Ugandan, Assan Bajope, may force Csaba to assign either Iceland based defender Andy Mwesigwa or former Iganga TC all rounder Johnson Bagoole with the holding mid field role, with Babadi Kasule playing behind the strikers supported by the lethal fleet left leg of assassin David Obua.
Other African Cup of Nations' Qualifiers
In some of the other weekend fixtures on the black man's continent, Niger makes a short but acidic trip to Lagos as they try their luck against the mighty Nigeria in another group three encounter. Kenya's Harambe stars welcome Eritrea in Nairobi, first rising power house, the Black Panthers of Angola visits Swaziland while Gambia lock horns with Cape Verde.
Burkina Faso is already feeling the hot temperatures of Dar es Salaam as they prepare to take on Tanzania's Taifa Stars. In Bujumbura, 'bad boy' Hassan Mido leads African reigning kings against little known Burundi. Sudan takes on Seychelles as the Cathage Eagles of Tunisia invade Mauritius.
Malawi is in the lion's den against Morocco's Atlas Lions. Rwanda tests how indomitable Samuel Etoo's mighty Cameroon is. Togo is up against Benin. Mozambique is in Dakar to face Senegal's Teranga lions as Libya shares the spoils with Ethiopia.
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First published: September 2, 2006
Ramathan Kasozi is a member of Ultimate Media Consult (U) Ltd. . A graduate Journalist, Kasozi has more than 5 years experience reporting on sports in Uganda for different print and broadcast media houses.