Uganda flattered to deceive when they needed to score just one goal while keeping a clean sheet in the goalless draw with Kenya last year to qualify for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations but they seem to be confident, this time around, of upsetting the tables against African champions Zambia.
While playing at home before an anticipated home crowd, Uganda could be under pressure to impress and fail to score the two unanswered goals, but their coach Bobby Williamson is throwing the pressure back to the African champions.
Heading into the last definitive 2012 Nations Cup qualifier, Williamson’s Cranes had easily plundered five goals in the opening two home games against Angola (3-0) and Guinea Bissau (2-0) but that counted for nothing in the end.
And going into next weekend’s colossal affair, in which Uganda need to beat African champions, Zambia, by a two-goal margin to be certain of qualification to next year’s finals in South Africa, the pressure is on again.
The 35 years of being absent from Africa’s major soccer bonanza are weighing heavily on Ugandans, just as the heat is on Fufa and Bobby to go past this ever present barrier.
The same could be said of Zambia. Not that they have also spent three decades in limbo.
But because their entire country demands that they must be in South Africa to defend the title. That failure of a defending champion to qualify would be tantamount to a criminal offense only equal to a driver forgetting how to drive.
So does Zambia’s weight of expectation lessen pressure on the Cranes? “I don’t really think so,” disagreed Bobby, who is working with his players daily at Namboole to ensure they get their act together in time, “They’ve got a goal.
“Thankfully, they have shown us a lot of respect. They know we are a good team and that can trouble them. “And pressure is always on, on both sides.
Especially if you are representing a big nation as Uganda. You have over 30 million Ugandans who always want to win football matches.”
The Scot, who has been in Cranes business since 2008, added: “Unfortunately we disappointed them when we failed to beat Kenya. Up to now I don’t understand why Kenya decided to play the way they did.”
Kenya did more of defending than attacking the Cranes on their last visit here but could have hurt Uganda when Dennis Oliech broke free only to squander his chance midway the game.
“I don’t expect the Zambians to play that way,” argued Bobby, “I think they will come and have a go.
“We are gonna try and attack them at the same time make sure we don’t concede because if we concede it will be an uphill task. But we also know that not many teams score a lot of goals against them (Zambia). But we know we have goals in us.”
Dennis Onyango (Mamelodi Sundowns) and Abel Dhaira (IBV), Hamza Muwonge (Vipers)
Simeon Masaba (URA), Godfrey Walusimbi (Vipers), Henry Kalungi (Carolina), Denis Guma (Victoria), Andy Mwesigwa (FC Ordabasy), Habib Kavuma (free), Isaac Isinde (St George) and Edward Ssali (Vipers).
Hassan Wasswa (free), Sula Matovu (Iraq), Mike Sserumaga (Proline), Geoffrey ‘Baba’ Kizito, Moses Oloya (Saigon XT), Tonny Mawejje (IBV), Patrick Ochan (TP Mazembe), Dan Wagaluka (free), Chrizestom Ntambi (NaviBank), Musa Mudde (free)
Brian Umony (KCCA – loan), Geoffrey Massa (Yenicami), Emmanuel Okwi (Simba), Hamis ‘Diego’ Kiiza (Yanga) and Robert Ssentongo (URA)