Favourites Uganda launch Cecafa title defence
Champions Uganda Cranes launch their title defense against Burundi this afternoon, in the only match of the day as the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup enters day two in Kakamega County.
The 14-time champions arrived in Kakamega on Saturday afternoon via the Malaba border, before lodging at the Kakamega’s Golf Hotel where Harambee Stars are also domiciled .
The Cranes trained at the Kakamega High School and at the match venue Bukhungu ahead of their campaign opener that head coach Moses Basena terms ‘a game to enjoy’.
“Most of the teams have identified us as the team to beat, considering we are the champions and our past history in the competition.We must therefore show that character of a champion, but we are taking it easy. We compete as we enjoy the game,” Basena said.
In the bigger perspective, the coach wants to carry on from where his predecessor, Milutin Micho left, and take home the trophy.
“Everything is moving on as planned. The only concern I have is for some of my youngsters who may be affected by stage freight.I believe we’ve got what it takes to win the tournament,” Basena added.
Uganda, who beat Rwanda’s Amavubi Bees 2-1 to win the 2015 edition in Ethiopia, have all the leading scorers in their local Premier League in the squad apart from Tito Okello of KCCA.
Bright Stars hitman Nelson Senkatuka who has four goals to his name, Viper’s Taddeo Lwanga, Hood Kaweesa of Police, Milton Karisa of Vipers and Sports Club Villa’s Allan Kyambadde -all on three , are in Basena’s squad.
Experienced Vipers FC defender Nico Wadada and KCCA’s goalkeeper Benjamin Ochan are also in the team, whose composition reflects the men being groomed for the January 2018 African Nation Championship (CHAN) in Morocco. Reigning Uganda’s topflight MVP Mutyiba Muzamiru of Vipers is also in the team.
Gor Mahia utility player Godfrey Walusimbi is thus missing from the squad, alongside most of the first team players who participated in the 31st edition of African Cup of Nations (Afcon) held in January in Gabon.
Interestingly, loaned AFC Leopards attacker, Allan Kateregga, now at Uganda’s KCCA, is back to Kenya with the Cranes.
At the same time, Burundi coach Olivier Niyungeko has no fear for arguably the most successful team in the tournament, saying his men have an equal chance in the match and will therefore match the Cranes toe- for-toe.
“The best way to start a tournament is winning, every coach will tell you that.
“That is what we want regardless of the champion tag that Uganda come with in the match. They (Uganda) have a very solid team but we are ready for the challenge,” charged Niyungeko.
Les Nirondelles will miss the services of Gor Mahia right back Karim Nizigiyamana who skippered them in the last edition after suffering a foot injury in club’s assignment.
They however boast of former Sofapaka FC lethal striker Abdoul Fiston Razak, now based in South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns and Tanzania’s Simba FC hit-man Laudit Luvago in their ranks, whose partnership is likely to lead the team’s attack line.
The match kicks off at 3:00Pm EAT (+3GMT).
Uganda full squad:
Goalkeepers: Isma Watenga (Vipers SC), Benjamin Ochan (KCCA FC), Ikara Tom (Kirinya Jinja SS)
Defenders: Nico Wakiro Wadada (Vipers SC), Joseph Nsubuga (Sc Villa Jogoo), Isaac Muleme (KCCA FC), Aggrey Madoi (Police FC), Timothy Awanyi (KCCA FC), Shafiq Bakaki (Vipers SC), Bernard Muwanga (Sc Villa Jogoo)
Midfielders: Tom Masiko (Vipers SC), Tadeo Lwanga (Vipers SC), Mutyaba Muzamiru (KCCA FC), Karisa Milton (Vipers SC), Paul Mucureezi (KCCA FC), Allan Kateregga (KCCA FC), Allan Kyambadde (Sc Villa Jogoo), Saddam Juma (KCCA FC)
Forwards: Nelson Senkatuka (Bright Stars FC), Derrick Nsibambi (KCCA FC), Hood Kaweesa (Police FC), Daniel Isiagi (Proline FC)
Burundi full squad:
Rukundo Onesime, Nahimana Jonathan, Mutombolo Fabien
Moussa Omar, Nshimirimana David, Ndoriyobija Eric, Harerimana Rashid Leon, Barisinze Nassor, Ndukumana Tresor, Mwenebantu John, Kamana Ismael.
Kwizera Pierre, Duhayindavyi Gael, Urasenga Cedrick, Ndayishimiye Youssouf, Nahimana Shasiri, Hererimana Moussa, Ndikumana Moussa.
Abdoul Fiston, Moussa Mossi, Shabani Hussein, Shaka Bienvienue, Mavugo Laudit, Silim Saidi, Iddy Muselemu.
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