Uganda’s national team, the cranes will today evening open the defense of the Council for East and Central Africa (CECAFA) title they won last year as the 36th edition of tournament gets underway.
Uganda Cranes, the hosts will be playing bitter rivals Kenya in what many are calling the ‘deadliest’ East African derby at 6pm and the venue is Mandela National stadium, Namboole.
It will be the first time the two sides are meeting since that heart breaking goalless draw in October last year that ended Uganda’s hopes of qualifying for the 2012 African Cup of Nations.
At the time, Uganda led the group throughout the campaign only to crash out at the eleventh hour and therefore Ugandans will be hoping for revenge against the Harambee stars this evening.
Although Uganda has a good record against the Harambee stars in all competitions, the two sides have an even record in the CECAFA competition ever since its advent.
Cranes coach Bobby Williamson who is in buoyant mood ahead of the game said “We have balanced our team with experienced and young players and hope that we give them a good game. All we want against them is nothing but a win.”
Emmanuel Okwi, Brian Umony and Hamis ‘Diego’ Kiiza will lead the hunt for goals in this East African derby.
The two nations have enjoyed a well-documented rivalry in Cecafa and Nations Cup qualifiers with the Cranes having an edge over the Harambee Stars having won 20 times to Kenya’s 17, 19 others ending in draws. Their last CECAFA meeting saw the Uganda cranes humble their rivals in Kenya’s Nyayo stadium three years ago.
However, the Kenyans will be meeting a slightly different side from the one they ejected out of the AFCON. Most players who featured in that game have since hang retired from international duty to focus on club football.
Ethiopia who qualified for next year’s AFCON will be playing tournament new comers South Sudan in the early kick off at 3pm. The CECAFA competition goes on until December 8th.
Cranes probable XI
Abel Dhaira, Godfrey Walusimbi, Henry Kalungi, Isaac Isinde, Denis Guma, Hassan Wasswa, Geoffrey ‘Baba’ Kizito, Moses Oloya, Emmanuel Okwi, Hamis ‘Diego’ Kiiza, Brian Umony
Others: Ali Kimera, Hamza Muwonge, Nicholas Wadada, Joseph Ochaya, Saidi Kyeyune, Joseph Mpande, Manco Kaweesa, Brian Mwejjwega, Robert Sentongo
Harambee Stars squad
Goalkeepers: Duncan Ochieng (Sofapaka) and Martin Musalia (Mathare United)
Defenders: Abdallah Juma, Thomas Wanyama (Sofapaka), Anthony Kimani (Mathare United), David Owino (Gor Mahia), Joakins Atudo, David Ochieng (Tusker).
Midfielders: Bernard Mangoli (AFC Leopards), Patilah Omoto (Kariobangi Sharks), Humphrey Mieno (Sofapaka), Paul Were (AFC Leopards), Clifton Miheso (Thika United), Kevin Omondi (Gor Mahia), Anthony Kimani (Sofapaka), Rama Salim (Gor Mahia) and Victor Ochieng (AFC Leopards).
Strikers: Edwin Lavatsa (Gor Mahia), Enock Agwanda (SoNy Sugar FC) and Michael Baraza (AFC Leopards).