2017 AFCON qualifiers Group D
Uganda vs Comoros
From a year to months, weeks, days and now just a few hours before Uganda Cranes and Comoros’ Les Coelecantes in what is a must-win fixture if the hosts are to break a 39-year AFCON jinx.
The game kicks off at exactly 5:00pm simultaneously with the other Group D tie between Burkina Faso and Botswana in Ouagadougou.
Both Uganda and Burkina Faso stand on ten points but the West Africans enjoy a better head to head.
Burkinabe too have to ensure perfection in their tie if they are to qualify.
Cranes under Serbian tactician Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic started this journey on Saturday June 30 2015 with a comfortable 2-0 home win with goals from Captain Geoffrey Massa and Brian Umony.
The ruthless Cranes roved on to a 1-0 win over Comoros in Mitsamouli.
That’s the only time the two have met in history. Match day three and four were tricky with Uganda managing only a point from a double header with Burkinabe.
Comoros look the underdogs on paper with only a home win against Botswana.
What does Uganda need?
Sixteen teams will qualify to Gabon next year with hosts taking one slot, 13 group leaders and two best runners up to make the total of sixteen.
In case Burkina Faso win, Uganda can still qualify in the other option of ‘best two’ runners up since their closest challengers Tunisia and Liberia face off and mathematically it’s impossible for both to get three points.
The major injury concern has been the fitness of undisputed number one goalkeeper Dennis Onyango who picked up a hamstring injury while on club duty last Sunday.
He sat out of the friendly against Kenya and missed the subsequent team training sessions but coach Micho later revealed that the keeper is ready for the game though could be subjected to a late fitness test.
“Much as we need him (Onyango) to be available, we first need to consider his health and life after the game. Onyango has been key for the team in this campaign but we shall subject him to a late fitness test to see whether he can play,” said Micho after training on Friday.
Another slot of concern is the right back position.
Dennis Guma who has previously played in that position is suspended after accumulating two yellow cards while England based Brevis Mugabi failed to honor debut call up.
Nicholas Wadada and Joseph Nsubuga are both in camp but coach is unlikely to field them.
Versatile defender Isaac Isinde is expected to start at right back position going by Micho’s words after Tuesday friendly.
He simply said, “At this stage, we are not experimenting, we shall go with the tested.”
Isinde has already been tested at the right back position previously.
In the game against Ghana in 2014 at Namboole, Isinde was played as a right back.
Comoros’ Coach Amiredine Abdou named 17 players for the task in Kampala with only one African based player, Ali Mmadi who features for Al Hoceima in Morocco.
Players to watch
Micho’s squad is full of stars who can change the course of the game but one fact stands; the team success will rely a lot on the performance of experienced Onyango, Mawejje and captain Massa who form an invisible axis.
Massa is the leading scorer in all qualifiers with 14 goals all netted at Namboole.
He has only this campaign with Aucho, Luwagga and Mawejje boosting of a goal each.
The visitors have scored only two goals; El Fardou Ben Nabouhane’s winner against Botswana and Youssouf Mchangama’s consolation in Ouagadougou.
Coach Ameridine has stressed his team will go out for revenge against Uganda on Sunday with their eyes on their poor rankings.
The islanders are ranked 155th globally while Sunday’s hosts stand on 65.
Probable starting XI
Micho is expected to go all out attacking from start and likely to use a 4-3-3 formation.
Dennis Onyango, Isaac Isinde, Joseph Ochaya, Hassan Wasswa, Murushid Jjuko, Khalid Aucho,Tonny Mawejje, Luwagga Kizito, Geoffrey Massa, Emmanuel Okwi, Miya Farouk
Ali Ahamada, Clement Daoudou:
Kassim Ahamad, Youssouf Ben Djalound, Omar Mbapandza, Kamal Youssoufa, Cheikh Houmadi
Midfielders: Fouad Bichirou, Nadjim Abdou (captain), Arkane Mohamed l, Youssouf Mchangama, Ancoub Mze Ali
Strikers: Mohamed Ben Fardou, Nasser Chamed, Djamal Bakar, Ali Mmadi, Youssouf Ahamadi