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Friday, October 8, 2010

Top Five Reasons Why Harambee Stars Will Beat Uganda

On Saturday, hundreds of thousands of football fanatics blaring vuvuzela’s will match towards the Nyayo National Stadium where Kenya’s Harambee Stars will square off against Uganda Cranes in a 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.  

The two East African neighbours will put aside all their diplomatic relations and the recently acquired spirit of a united East Africa and battle it out in the field in what has all the potential ingredients to be called mother of all the thrillers.

Uganda goes into the match as favourites given their previous record against their East African neighbours, while a 3-0 thumping over 2010 Africa Cup of Nations hosts Angola in their most previous encounter will surely boost their morale.

The exact opposite is what can be said of the Harambee stars, who lost by a solitary Jose Luis Mendes strike in the 75th minute at the Estádio Nacional 24 de Setembro in Bissau early last month.

Nevertheless, the home team will go into the match knowing that the hundreds of thousands of supporters expected to throng the Nyayo National Stadium will be expecting nothing short of three points and perhaps a praiseworthy goal margin.

Kenya last played in the African finals in 2004 while Uganda’s last appearance was in 1978 when the lost to Ghana in the final. If Kenya loses to the Cranes, they might as well start kissing goodbye to their hopes of featuring in the African football spectacle come 2012, though they will still have a slim chance depending on the outcome of other matches.

And now, it’s time to reveal the Top 5 reasons why the Harambee stars will cane the Uganda Cranes in full full condition.

MacDonald Mariga – Of late, Mariga has been doing some things on the pitch which some might categorize as hunger to win, while others might consider them weird. In the Guinea Bissau versus Kenya match, Mariga was reported to have had a bust-up with Kenyan Captain Dennis Oliech. The two, who are expected to inspire the Stars to victory, were actually blamed for the embarrassing 1-0 loss to the 'Djurtus', who have never qualified for either the FIFA World Cup or the CAF Africa Cup of Nations.


In the same week, the Inter Milan midfielder head-butted FC Twente’s Theo Janssen in a Champions League encounter between the two teams. These incidences perhaps put the midfield linchpin, known to be a shy and laid back, in the bad books. But they also show his renewed sense of hunger. If he can transfer the hunger into the game and not the player, then he might as well head goals and burst up the net to the detriment of the Ugandans.
 

The 12th Man – If places where high decibels rule the roost are anathema to you, then Nyayo National Stadium is definitely your no-go-zone come Saturday, unless of course you own some earplugs. The sweet shrill sound of AFC Leopards’ Isikuti, the blaring vuvuzelas from Gor Mahia’s K’Ogalo devotees and the thumping drums of the Sofapaka aficionadas will all be converging under one roof that is Nyayo Stadium. Although the gate charges are relatively high for many (tickets are selling at Sh1,000 for main stand and Sh300 for terraces), nothing less but a full capacity stadium is expected. Also with the likes of Gideon ‘Sonko’ the Fugitive Mbuvi always feeling sufficiently philanthropic and already too willing to ‘give back to the society’, Harambee Stars will not be short of the all important 12th man that is the fan. Go 12th Man, walk on Harambee stars with hopes in your hearts and You Will Never Walk Alone (YWNWA). 
Harambee Stars fans walk towards Nyayo stadium in a past match
Dennis Oliech – The ‘Menace’ is simply buzzing with confidence. For what more can you say of a man who scored the fastest goal of the French season to date on Saturday September 5 when he netted for Auxerre after 57 seconds of their game against Nancy (a team in France – not the lady)? This was later followed by a career-high game against one of the world’s most celebrated clubs in Real Madrid. I fear, and so should the Ugandans, that the Auxerre striker will have a menacing effect on the game. If the Crane’s defence fail to eat enough matoke, Oliech might as well score a first ever hat-trick between the two teams.

Jacob Ghost Mulee - Mulee has never lost to Uganda in a full international as Harambee Stars coach, and can even boast of the 4-1 victory against them in friendly encounter at Nyayo Stadium on August 18, 2004. I believe this is the man who can take Harambee stars to that level that Kenyans so believe they belong, as long as he steers clear of football wranglings and names his team without fear or favour. But there is one problem. Cranes midfielder Tony Mawejje boasts that he is a better player than McDonald Mariga, while another Crane, Andy Mwesigwa, has sworn not to lose his unbeaten record in matches against Mulee’s sides.

Powerhouse Status – Okay. I know that Uganda has had the best head-to-head record against Kenya in the recent years. I also know that Uganda recently discovered some black gold which made President Yoweri Museveni start speaking with the swagger of a senior economic advisor. But I also know that Uganda has never beaten a Ghost Mulee-led Kenyan 11. I also know that Uganda can produce barrels of oil but they will still rely on Kenya’s refinery. In other words, there is just this ‘Big Brother’ status that Kenya rightly commands over Uganda. And when brothers often face up, upsets can never be ruled out.  But I don't see that happening in this one.

Before I run out of my word count, I would want to ask you who among Victor Mugabe, Ezekiel Odera, Allan Wanga, John Baraza and the startling George "BlackBerry" Odhiambo should partner in form Ligue One striker Dennis Oliech in Kenya’s attack. Leave comments below and also your predictions for the game.

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Kenya Provisional Squad

Goalkeepers: Wycliffe Kasaya (Red Berets), Wilson Obungu (Sofapaka) Martin Musalia (Mathare)

Defenders: Havenar Maloba and Anthony Kimani (Mathare), Julius Owino and Christopher Wekesa (Gor Mahia), George Owino and Edgar Ochieng (Sofapaka), Geoffrey Kokoyo (Ulinzi), David Otieno (Sony)

Midfielders: Kelvin Omondi (Gor Mahia), Crispin Olando (Tusker), Levy Muaka (City Stars), Chester Okoyo and Stephen Ocholla (Ulinzi), Osborne Monday and James Situma (Sofapaka), Macdonald Mariga (Inter), Patrick Osiako (Mjallby, Sweden), Johanna Omollo (FC Fola –Luxemborg), James Orundu (AFC Leopards) Kepha Aswani (Thika Utd)

Strikers: Dennis Oliech (Auxerre), Victor Mugabe (Germinal Beerschot), Allan Wanga and John Barasa (Sofapaka), Ezekiel Odera (KCB) and George Odhiambo (Gor Mahia)


 
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Uganda Final Squad

Goalkeepers
Denis Onyango (Black Aces, SA), Robert Odongkara (URA)

Defenders
Ibrahim Sekagya (Salzburg, Austria), Andy Mwesigwa (Lifan China - released), Nestroy Kizito (Partizan, Serbia), Simeon Masaba (URA), Godfrey Walusimbi (Bunnamwaya) and Joseph Owino (Simba, Tz)

Midfielders
Tony Mawejje (IBV, Iceland), Vincent Kayizzi (FK Srem, Serbia), Steven Bengo (URA), Owen Kasule (Bunnamwaya), Dan Wagaluka (URA) and Musa Mudde (Sofapaka, Kenya)

Strikers
Geoffrey Sserunkuma (Bidvest Wits, SA), Geoffrey Massa (Itilesat, Egypt), Mike Sserumaga (Bunnamwaya) and Eugene Ssepuuya (Queensland, Australia).


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And That's thesteifmastertake!!