Uganda’s second Group D match at this year’s Chan in Rubavu on Saturday is not a must-win affair. Yet, it is also one they must not lose.
Share spoils with the Zambians and the Cranes can still go ahead and progress from the group with victory over Zimbabwe next Wednesday.
Lose it and they will edge closer to their third successive exit. The safest bet, therefore, remains victory over the Zambians, who have beaten Uganda two more times in the 34 clashes the two have had.
“We have respect for them and I have many friends there,” Cranes coach Micho Sredojevic told Saturday Monitor in Rubavu ahead of the clash. “But on Saturday, we put all this aside. It will be us or them. We shall do everything possible to get the result that we want."
“Finer details will decide like they did in the first games – Zimbabwe versus Zambia (0-1) and Uganda versus Mali (2-2).”
Micho’s team will attempt all this without his inspirational skipper Farouk Miya and goalkeeper Ismail Watenga, who picked up serious injuries in the opener against Mali.
“Even without Miya and Watenga, our gallant soldiers, we want to show the true character of Ugandans,” added Micho.
“We shall not cry, we shall look to the positives. For me, I take this in a positive way as war, you have to keep going.”
Micho is expected to make three changes from the team that started against Mali, two of them forced. Either James Alitho or Mathias Kigonya will fill in for Watenga and Muzamir Mutyaba for Miya in a supporting cast.
Returning from suspension, holding midfielder Ivan Ntege could be the third change, forcing his KCCA teammate Timothy Awany to the bench.
Erisa Ssekisambu, scorer of the first goal against Mali, should spearhead attack with Caesar Okhuti and Robert Ssentongo. The trio will have to be at their lethal best to break down the well-organised Zambians.
Defender Richard Kassaga and company must keep Isaac Chansa, scorer of the winner over Zimbabwe, and veteran skipper Christopher Katongo quiet, if Uganda are to prevail.
GROUP D FIXTURES (Both matches at Umuganda Stadium, Rubavu)
Zimbabwe v Mali, 4pm
Zambia v Uganda, 7pm
This story first appeared on the Daily Monitor website.