As the national Under-17 team continues to await Caf’s verdict on their formal complaint lodged against Zambia’s allegedly overage players, the team is not taking anything for granted.
The attention is solely on finding ways of overturning the 0-2 first leg deficit. Ahead of the second leg at Nakivubo stadium this Saturday, coach Matia Lule has been boosted by the return of key players that form a big part of the team’s spine. Captain Isiagi Okiring returned to camp after missing the away leg in Zambia a fortnight ago because of academic commitments. Okiring comes forth as a natural leader, who organizes his teammates and brings a sense of calmness at the back according to Lule.
Okiring’s inspirational effect is an attribute that would have done so well for the team in Zambia. Being such a confident player that also marauds well compared to his understudy, Diego Katumba, who played in Zambia, there is hope that the right-side of The Cubs will be better this time.
That said, on Monday September 22, the sight of gangly and lanky defender Bashir Asiku also taking part in full training at Namboole stadium was a welcome one. Lule can’t emphasize enough how much they missed him following the early injury he sustained in Zambia.
They lost the height aantage he brings in the team.
“With him out, his partner at the heart of defence, Neheyimana Kato was left to battle a lot, largely alone, in trying to contain the big opponents,” Lule explained.
Indeed, it is one thing to lose one key defender, but to lose two is such an encumbrance even to Lule’s team that has previously been commended for the high range of versatility it has within its ranks. And with the toughness (solidity) and the ability to tackle, play the ball out of defence smartly, as Asiku, 16, does, not many defenders in the team are of similar ilk as he is.
In fact, Asiku remains indispensable, as he is a class act to follow, against whom the spine of the Under-17 side begins. Meanwhile, Emmanuel Oringa is another versatile player that also plays in defence but mainly stars as a holding midfielder.
In simple terms, they are the backbones.
While it is difficult to underestimate the influence of left-back Alex Komakech both defensively and offensively, the players upfront remain important to the team’s cause. And because of that, their value overides that of defenders despite football being a team sport.
Muhammed Shaban and Charles Sebutinde, scorers of three goals apiece thus far. In the two friendly games they have played this week, a 5-2 win over Makerere University team and a 3-1 win over Premier League side, Entebbe FC, Shaban has scored three while Sebutinde scored one.
It is such form that confirms the under-17s are getting set for battle against Zambia, ready to turn it around themselves especially if nothing positive comes from Caf’s findings.
Source : The Observer