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Cranes eye perfect start to World Cup Qualifiers at expense of Harambe Stars

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Uganda has not defeated Kenya in a competitive senior game since 2012. (PHOTO/COURTESY)

FIFA World Cup Qualifiers
Kenya vs Uganda
Nyayo International Stadium, Nairobi
Thursday, 02-09-2021 @4pm

The Uganda Cranes will be out to get their World Cup qualification campaign off to a good start when they take on Kenya at the Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi on Thursday, September 02.

Uganda who are now under Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic have been in camp for the past two weeks trying to ensure they are in good condition come game-time.

They are coming off a disappointing AFCON 2021 qualification campaign that saw them finish third in their group.

Alot of faith has been placed in Micho who led Uganda back to AFCON after a 38-year absence, back in 2017.

The team has changed of late with many young players now in the set-up and Micho is tasked with ensuring a proper transition.

Uganda was recently in Ethiopia where they played two build-up games which culminated in a loss and victory against the home nation and it’s national league champions, respectively.

For Kenya, they have been on a roll of late and will be hoping to continue on a similar course.

Despite finishing third in a group that consisted of Egypt, Comoros and Togo and as a result, failing to reach the 2022 AFCON, Kenya have won three of their past four games (both competitive and friendlies).

Uganda will be without a host of players who featured in the loss to Malawi that sealed their AFCON 2022 fate.

Tadeo Lwanga is ruled out through an injury he sustained towards the end of the Tanzanian Premier League. However, midfielder Khalid Aucho returns to the fold after missing the Malawi game due to disciplinary issues.

Kenya were recently boosted by the arrival-to-camp of star-player Michael Olunga. Olunga joined his mates on Monday after featuring for his club side Al-Duhail of Qatar, over the weekend.

He joins a squad that also features stars like Eric Johanna, Richard Odada, Eric Ouma and Joseph Okumu who all feature in Europe.

Speaking a head of the game, Micho says Uganda has a good chance to reach the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

“Every child in Uganda grows up with a dream of one day playing at the World Cup. Micho said after Wednesday’s last training.

“There is no better chance than these qualifiers where we are in a group with Kenya, Mali and Rwanda.

“We want to give our best from the first match against Kenya in a competitive aspect.”

With the Uganda Premier League currently in recess since June, Micho is worried about his player’s lack of competitiveness

“We are in a situation where we have been in off-season but we have worked very hard to prepare our selves for this stage.

“Kenya have an advantage in a competitive aspect as they are just coming from the league but this does not matter as derbies are always won by small details.

“We respect the coach and players for Kenya but we have self respect to our selves too and we will represent Uganda in the best possible way. For me, the players I have in camp are the best currently and most fit at Uganda’s disposal.”

Despite the concerns, the Serb says his side is ready.

“We believe we are ready. No body knows what will happen tomorrow and this is what is pushing us to try and represent Uganda in the best possible way.”

This will be the 10th meeting between the two sides since January 2009. In the previous nine meetings, Uganda has win four, Kenya one with the other four all ending in draws including the most recent three match-ups between the two sides. Kenya has not hosted Uganda in a competitive match since October 2010 when the two sides drew 0-0 in an AFCON qualifiers. Uganda’s last victory over the Harambe Stars came in December 2012 in a 2-0 victory. Since then, Kenya has won one of the four matches the two nations have played against each other with the other three all ending in draws.

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