By Brian Bariyo Tymuramye
The Uganda national football team will be attempting to reach a first CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup final since 2015 when they face Tanzania on Tuesday afternoon.
Uganda Cranes will take on Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro Stars for a 22nd time in CECAFA history at KCCA stadium, Lugogo with either targeting a place in the finals.
The Cranes come into the game with a decent record against their rivals winning 13 games against three losses and five stalemates.
On top of that, they have won all their group games topping Group A while Tanzania could only afford one win in three games qualifying as the second placed team behind leaders in Group B, Kenya.
The Cranes who lost to 1-0 Ethiopia back then, have been magnificent in the competition so far and topping Group A as a consequence.
They have been arguably the best side throughout the group stages, winning all of their four games whilst scoring 10 goals and conceding just two.
Their last game saw Johnathan McKinstry’s men thrash Djibouti 4-1 despite making several changes to the starting team.
Jonathan McKinstry, the Cranes coach urged team “Honestly, as a footballing nation, they are very competitive and we know we have to produce our best performance if we are to win ,” said McKinstry. “If we are not at our best, then Tanzania has quality players that can punish us but we are focused on putting up a good performance and if we do that, we shall go through,” he added.
A 1-0 loss to Kenya in their opening games was followed with a narrow victory over Zanzibar meaning they had to avoid defeat in their last fixture against Sudan and also pray Zanzibar does not wallop Kenya, to ensure a spot in the last four.
Having scored just a single goal so far, the Kilimanjaro Stars must be concerned about coming up a balanced Ugandan team.
“We respect Uganda as a team and we know they are the host team, said Tanzania head coach Juma Mgunda ahead of the game as quoted by Goal.com.
“I know they start as favourites, but we will fight them until the end, we will not fear them.
“I know their fans will rally behind them but we will give our best to reach the final.”
Tanzania are perennial underachievers in the competition having won it on just six occasions since 1974.
Their last triumph came in 2010 when they beat guests Ivory Coast 1-0 in the final played in Dar es Salaam.
Uganda head into the game as strong favourites but with the way the competition always tends to unfold, anything can indeed happen.
The other Semi-final which will kick-off at 1:30pm on the same day pits Kenya against Eritrea. Kenya reached the semis after topping group B while Eritrea were runner’s ups in Group A.
Charles Lukwago, Allan Okello and Bright Anukani will return to the starting eleven after being rested for the past two games and will be vital as well as forward Fahad Bayo.
Tanzania will rely on the experienced duo of Kelvin Yondani and goalie Aishi Manula with Ditram Ntchimbi leading the hunt for goals.