Uganda, Zambia Battle in Final Stretch for AFCON Slot

Uganda and Zambia will engage in a potentially fierce battle on Saturday as both their trainers are focused on nothing but qualification in their final stretch of preparations.

Herve Renard, the Africa Cup of Nations winning coach, has declared for the Johannesburg training camp that; “Only this word [qualification] is in our mind.”

His major setback is the absence of star midfielder Rainford Kalaba who picked an injury in his club TP Mazembe’s African Champions League semi-final goalless draw against Esperance of Tunisia on Sunday.

Striker Jacob Mulenga is also excused from the assignment due to a bereavement in the family but Renard has enough ammunition to take on Uganda.

His counterpart Bobby William son is on the knife edge as defeat will end his spell at the helm of the Cranes.

Uganda need to win by a two-goal margin to be sure of qualification. A 2-1 loss or draw will see Zambia through. And how and by what means, Renard and Zambia do not care that much. All that matters is qualification.

Same story back to Namboole, where Cranes coach Bobby Williamson also emphasised it is qualification that matters.

According to the Monitor Newspaper in Uganda, Bobby does not expect his side to dominate the African champions.

“I expect a difficult game,” he said, “Of course we are playing the defending champions and they are very good at counter attacking.

“It may not even get to counter attacking; it may be end to end stuff because we won’t dominate Zambia by any stretch of imagination.

“If we get the breaks maybe we could (counter attack), but we have to respect Zambia. They are a good team, they don’t concede a lot of goals and that’s how they won that trophy (2012 Afcon).”

Bobby has warned against reading into Rainford Kalaba’s groin injury that has ruled him out of the clash.

“Kalaba may be here for all I know. We’ll wait and see what happens on Saturday.”

The Chipolopolo are scheduled to arrive in Kampala from their South African training base this evening aboard a plane chartered by Zambia’s largest mining company, the Konkola Copper Mines (KCM).

Uganda are seeking their first Africa Cup of Nations place in 34 years but must convincingly overturn the 1-0 margin with at least a 2-0 triumph at Namboole Stadium in Kampala where they have not lost a game since 2005.

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