Sport

Zambia, Uganda Battle for Slot at 2013 AfCON

Reigning Africa Nations Cup champions, Zambia go head-to-head with Uganda later today in a do-or-die qualifier for either side at Namboole Stadium, Kampala.

The Chipolopolo play the Cranes in an encounter that will see only one team through to the 2013 finals in South Africa.

The southern Africans come into the game on the back of a 1-0 first leg win they bundled up at Levi Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola early last month.

To qualify, Uganda needs to finish at least two goals better at Namboole.
The Zambians, with a one-goal advantage so far, will sail through with at the very least, a goalless draw.

Coach Bobby Williamson is confident his side will dump the continental champions out of further contention.

His players are also riding on the same belief, but of course well aware of the nature of challenge their opponents will present.

“We are ready for them [Zambia]. We have played them before and know what to expect. This is the game of our lives. It’s our lifetime opportunity,” midfielder
Hassan Wasswa said after Cranes’ penultimate training.

The Chipolopolo – under the watchful eye of their French coach, Hervé Renard – have come to Kampala with the primary double target of qualifying for South Africa and also of defending their title.

The Cranes are this time more than determined to put an end to a string of over 30 years of non-qualification for the finals of the arguably biggest football tournament on the continent.

The closest Uganda has sniffed the title was at the 1978 final, finishing second behind the hosts, Ghana.

Zambia, for her part, has featured in three Africa Nations Cup finals – finishing second in 1974 and 1994, and then reigning supreme in 2012.

They beat Ivory Coast on penalties in Gabon’s capital, Libreville.

On October 8 last year, the Cranes suffered one of the biggest heartbreaks in the country’s football history when a 0-0 draw against Kenya at home denied them a chance at the bigger stage of the competition.

Despite that disappointment, the home fans are optimistic that with the Cranes’ fantastic unbeaten home record of eight years now, the Chipolopolo are headed for the exit.

Uganda last lost at Namboole Stadium in October 2004 to South Africa, and since then, the mysterious winning code is yet to be cracked by another side.

If the Zambians qualify by a draw, they will leave the Ugandan unbeaten home record intact. But a win for them will do two harms to the Cranes – rip apart their qualification hopes for 2013, and worse still bring to an end their unbeaten home record.

Source: New Vision

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