By Andrew Mwanguhya
Cairo — An air of respect filled the room yesterday as Uganda and Zimbabwe staff talked of each other in glowing terms amidst the weight of expectation today.
The two countries come against each other in the first of two Group A Africa Cup of Nations matches at Cairo International Stadium today with one dangerously in harm’s way. While a point would all but ensure Uganda’s progression, it would only keep Zimbabwe’s slim survival hopes alive with the final group matches on Sunday.
“We respect Zimbabwe very much,” Desabre told a packed pre-match media conference in Cairo, “They have quality in attack, midfield and defence. But we are focused on ourselves.”
Uganda come into this one with raised stakes having stunned two-time African champions and last edition’s quarterfinalists, DRC, 2-0 thanks to Patrick Kaddu and Emmanuel Okwi’s headers.
“We are focused to do a good game and forget the first. Sure we are leading the table but most important is to have maximum points to get our target,” added Deabre.
“Zimbabwe are a good team and have good individual players. It will not be easy but we are ready to do the maximum.”
Desabre’s counterpart, Sunday Chidzambwa, whose side narrowly lost 1-0 to hosts Egypt on the opening day, admits they must make it happen today but come up against tricky customers.
“We all know they beat DRC who are also a good side,” said Chidzambwa of Uganda, “We are playing against very good opponents and if we are to produce a good result we will have to be at our best throughout all 90 minutes.”
Onyango’s Zim familiarity
Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper and Cranes captain, Onyango, said he knows “90 per cent of Zimbabwe players” and is happy to share insights with his team. But the one-time Caf Champions League winner admits Zim have “quality and are fearless. We have to fight hard.”
One of the men that will be desperate to breach Onyango is AmaZulu midfielder Ovidy Obvious Karuru.
“Yeah he knows us and we also know him,” said Kauru,
“We know him as a very good goalkeeper and if you have to score against Onyango you don’t shoot from distance. You have to work your way through the spaces. This game is our future in this tournament.”
Desabre is unlikely to change the lineup that started against DRC, but left everyone guessing when asked why central defender Murushid Jjuuko missed Monday’s training.
“Jjuuko has a yellow card. We need to manage him. “We have many players. Tomorrow I’ll take a decision.”
Should Jjuuko get a booking today, he would miss the final group match against Egypt, although you could argue today’s is more important.
Uganda Cranes probable XI vs. Zimbabwe
Denis Onyango, Godfrey Walusimbi, Murushid Jjuuko, Hassan Wasswa, Bevis Mugabi, Khalid Aucho, Mike Azira, Faruku Miya, Abdu Lumala, Emmanuel Okwi, Patrick Kaddu (4-2-3-1)
Substitutes: Jamal Salim, Robert Odongkara, Isaac Muleme, Wakiro Wadada, Joseph Ochaya, Timothy Awany, Ronald Mukiibi, Kizito Luwagga, Tadeo Lwanga, Allan Kateregga, Derrick Nsibambi, Allan Kyambadde
Zimbabwe X1 vs. Egypt
Sibanda; Darikwa, Mudimu, Hadebe, Lunga; Nakamba, Munetsi, Karuru, Mushekwi; Musona, Billiat
Substitutes: Phiri, Pfumbidzai, Chawapiwa, Rusike, Dzingai, Chipezeze, Kadewere, Mutizwa, Mahachi, Kamusoko, Mhlanga
Star Marksman. Zimbabwe dangerman Khama Billiant.
UGANDA – ZIMBABWE
MATCH BY MATCH BREAKDOWN
Nov 20, 1981:
Uganda 0-0 Zimbabwe – Cecafa Cup
Jun 6, 1982:
Zimbabwe 2-1 Uganda – Int. Friendly
Jun 13, 1982:
Zimbabwe 1-1 Uganda 1-1 Int. Friendly
Nov 20 1982:
Uganda 1-1 Zimbabwe, Cecafa Cup
Nov 23, 1983:
Uganda 0-1 Zimbabwe, Cecafa Cup
Jul 22, 1984:
Zimbabwe 1-0 Uganda, Int. Friendly
Dec 4, 1984:
Uganda 4-1 Zimbabwe, Cecafa Cup
Dec 16, 1987:
Uganda 2-2 Zimbabwe, Cecafa Cup
Nov 8, 1988:
Uganda 0-0 Zimbabwe, Cecafa Cup
Dec 6, 1989:
Uganda 1-1 Zimbabwe, Cecafa Cup
Aug 22, 2004:
Zimbabwe 2-0 Uganda – Int. Friendly
Dec 6, 2011:
Zimbabwe 0-1 Uganda, Cecafa Cup
May 31, 2016;
Zimbabwe 2-0 Uganda, Int. Friendly