Uganda Cranes will be hoping to cause an upset later on today when they take on 2015 finalists Ghana in an African Cup Of Nations (AFCON) fixture that will be played at the Stade de Port Gentil, a fixture that was won by the latter by a two goal margin the last time the two sides met at the finals of the same tournament. A must win game for the Cranes if they are to disprove critics and pundits alike and wield any hopes of reaching the later stages of the tournament.
Unlike the 1978 Ugandan team that lost to the Black Stars which hardly comprised of any professional players owing to the fact that most of the players had full time jobs that paid their bills, the returning team boasts the presence of more than 20 players playing abroad, players who carry with them a hunger having been starved of a place in the tournament for the last 39 years.
The cranes come into tournament fresh from a 3-0 defeat at the hands of a ruthless Wilfred Zaha inspired Ivory Coast in the buildup preparation match, but Cranes Coach Milutin Sredejovic will be hoping his time can replicate the match winning performance they pulled off in the other build up game against Slovakia which they won by a single goal from Farouk Miya.
Believed by most to be the underdogs of group D, the men from the Pearl of Africa will try to match wits with four-time winners Ghana who last won the trophy in 1982 and currently posses a star studded side that with the likes Asamoah Gyan,the Ayew brothers Andre(Westham) and Jordan (Astonvilla), Daniel Amartey(Leicester City),Newcastle’s Christian Atsu and Thomas Partey (Atletico Madrid) who ply their trade in Europe’s top leagues.
But if there is any hope for the Cranes then it will come from the presence of Dennis Onyango Masinde, the cranes shot stopper recently voted Glo CAF player of the year 2016 who will try to see to it that no goals are conceded under his custodianship while placing his hopes in the genius of 19 year old prospect Farouk Miya who plays for Standard Liege.
The forward who started and later executed the move that gave the Cranes victory in Namboole in the last qualification game against Comoros which secured a place for the East African outfit in the AFCON will have to be at his best along with his fellow forward Geoffrey Massa when they make an attempt to rattle the Ghanaian defensive team which depending on coach Avram Grant’s choice could pair Jonathan Mensah (Columbus Crew) and Daniel Amartey(Leicester City) or rely on the services of defender John Boye (Sivasspor).
While the team from East Africa will be looking up to Miya, their opponents will be backing Andre Ayew to replicate the consistent performances that earned him a big money move from Welsh side Swansea to Westham.
Ayew, 27, who scored thirteen goals in 36 appearances last season for Swansea, has only managed a single goal in 13 games in the current campaign and will be hoping to redeem himself if he’s to earn a first team place back at Westham when he returns at the end of AFCON.
The game will be played at 7:00pm East African time, and the region can only hope that its only representatives can make it proud.
Uganda and Ghana sit in Group D which also has 7 time champions Egypt and alongside the Eagles of Mali who play each other in the second match of the day.