When Brian Odongo leads out the national team to the blaring music that will engulf Kyadondo Rugby Football Club (KYRFC) today, Oscar Kalyango will be 13th in the queue.
Odong and his mates, most of them young, coach Peter Magona, Uganda Rugby Union (URU) and the entire fraternity will bare the burden of expectation. Rugby Cranes are in quite a rant ahead of the first leg of the Elgon Cup, a rivalry spanning 10 years. “We owe the fans,” outside centre Kalyango said.
Kalyango will have a new partner in midfield in Michael Tamale as regular Michael Wokorach is one of three players, who opted to join the 7s team for the Commonwealth Games.
A five-match losing streak stretching back to last year’s second leg of the same competition feels like Uganda has not won a game in eons.But, Kenya, seven-time winners of the two-team event, always bring the best out of Uganda. “Kenya and Uganda have had so many rough battles,” admitted Odongo. “We start on the back foot.”
The prop will have learnt before many that Kenya, winners here last year with 19-13 margin to overturn Uganda’s 17-16 win in Nairobi, have sent a largely second string side. None of the 23 here took part in Kenya’s failed bid to qualify for the 2015 Rugby World Cup where they finished behind Namibia and Zimbabwe in Madagascar earlier this week.
Even South African coach Jerome Paarwater is not coming so Dominique Habimana will tutor the side. The bulk is from western Kenyan side Nakuru. Magona will not be preoccupied by who the Kenyans have as Uganda seek to add to their two triumphs from 2006 and 2012.
“We are ready for the game,” he said in an interview with NTV.
There is also need to bury the horror of last month’s Africa Cup 1B event in Tunisia when Rugby Cranes lost to Ivory Coast and Senegal by a combined four points. Forwards have excelled in recent years but it’s the telepathy of the back-line and the ability of kickers to contribute from the cone that will be in the spotlight.
In Fabian Olando and Eden Agero, Kenya will fancy their chances of nailing the majority of their kicks if Jonathan Onen and Joseph Aredo fail to make the visitors pay.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor