The 2015 Orange Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers enter match day two with 14 games lined up on Wednesday.
But it is Group E that East Africans will be mainly focused on as their only representatives, Uganda, bid to assume pool leadership should they upstage Guinea at Namboole and Ghana fail to beat Togo in Lome.
Michael Dussuyer’s Guinea top the standings with three points following their opening 2-1 victory over Togo while Uganda and Ghana, who played out a 1-1 draw in Kumasi last Saturday, share a point each.
The Ghana Black Stars and Togo all know they must win to keep bright their chances of making the top two to automatically qualify for the January 2015 tournament in Morocco; yet one of them – or both – could drop points.
The comforting factor for all four teams in this group is that it is early days with only one game having been played.
But the importance of winning on Wednesday cannot be overemphasised. Ghana and Togo know that, same as Uganda and Guinea.
Should Guinea manage what other countries have failed to do since 2004 – that is beat Uganda at home; they will take a stranglehold on the group with six points from two games, leaving the Cranes in a delicate position as their chances of qualifying lie strongly in winning all three home games.
But should the Cranes beat Guinea, they will have made a strong statement of intent. Micho knows they will bank on the 12th man to see off the solid Guineans, yet the Serbian is also aware their good 10-year home record cannot play football.
“You have seen South Africa go to Sudan and win, Congo Brazzaville going to Nigeria and beating the African champions, even us – we should have won in Ghana but got a point there,” Micho told supersport.com.
“This is meaning some things have changed on the African continent. We have got the right to win at home and keep that record, but we have got no right to underestimate the opponent.
“We have great respect to them (Guinea) but not to over respect them. As I said, I believe in what I am doing, I believe in the players, I believe in my coaches and I believe that we have the power to keep going.”
Micho’s opposite number, Michael Dussuyer, insists they are not scared of anyone in the group but knows Uganda are an immovable object at home.
“We are not scared of Ghana and Togo and know nothing about Uganda except that they don’t lose their home games,” he said, adding, “We did not have the luxury of a home game, so for us our targets don’t change.”
Guinea faced Togo in Morocco after Caf advised that they play their September qualifiers from neutral venues because of the Ebola scourge back home.
Uganda’s Micho is expected to start with at least 10 players of the 11 that started against Ghana; with Geoffrey Massa likely to replace Brian Umony upfront.
Tricky Borussia Mönchengladbach winger Traore Ibrahima is one skipper Andy Mwesigwa and company must watch intensely.
Uganda and Guinea have met three times, with the Cranes losing two and drawing the other 4-4, which was actually the last time the Sly Nationale visited Kampala – in 2000.
Uganda’s probable X1
Dennis Onyango, Godfrey Walusimbi, Dennis Guma, Andy Mwesigwa (cpt), Savio Kabugo, Khalid Aucho, Geoffrey ‘Baba’ Kizito, Tonny Mawejje, Moses Oloya, Kizito Luwagga, Geoffrey Massa,
Subs: Robert Odongkara, Richard Kasagga, Isaac Isinde, Alex Kakuba, Brian Majwega, Brian Umony, Robert Ssentongo
Yattara Naby Moussa, Bangoura Ibrahima Sory, Dabo Amara, Keita Abdoul Aziz, Camara Fode, Cisse Abdoulaye, Diarra Mohammed Lamine, Sankoh Baissama Mohammed, Zayatte Kamil, Conte Ibrahima Sory, Fafana Boubacar, Keita Naby, Laudel Guy Lucien Michel, Bangoura Al Hassane, Camara Aboubacar Demba, Soumah Seydouba, Traore Ibrahima, Bangoura Ismael