As the Under-17 national football team, the Cubs, continue to bask in their 4-0 walloping of Rwanda in the first leg of the Africa Youth Championships qualifiers, ultimate qualification remains paramount.
And until that goal is achieved, celebrations should remain on ice according to head coach Matia Lule who is preparing his team for the second leg this weekend in Kigali. However, as the preparations got into high gear this week at the Njeru Technical Centre in Jinja, Lule is concentrating more on the psychological aspects of the game to guard against the mind games being played by Rwanda.
Already as it stands, the Under-17 return leg has been moved from the capital Kigali to another town that is 150km away in Gisenyi. That is over two hours of road drive and Lule isn’t taking anything for granted. “Our hosts may be planning to make us travel long distances before the game in order to tire us but we will be ready as the boys are set,” Lule said.
In addition to that, word from Rwanda is that the game is also going to be moved a day back from Saturday August 2 to August 1. All this is Rwanda FA’s attempt to get the Uganda Under-17s fatigued on match-day. But Lule isn’t concerned because his charges have been briefed and prepared to take on any challenge regardless of the circumstances.
In fact in his squad selection since being appointed Under-17 head coach, Lule has concentrated on ensuring that there is versatility amongst his players.
“Each player I have in the team can play at least more than two positions on the field. This is a very good attribute especially when you are going for an away game. They can always adapt and change depending on the situation without even having to make any substitution,” Lule explained.
In addition, Lule said that his practice to inculcate a versatility philosophy amongst his players was intended to give these players an extra edge in the life of a footballer, where they can adapt to different positions, which is a key element to succeeding in professional football.
But at the moment, the crucial thing is succeeding in the return leg against Rwanda. And that will take some extra time off the field planning from the Ugandan contingent heading to Rwanda.
The team leaves today by road and will have a friendly match in Kabale before proceeding to Rubavu stadium in Gisenyi. For starters, from Kampala to Kigali is 410km while from Kabale to Kigali is 110km. From Kigali to Gisenyi where the game is going to be played in 150km.
Source : The Observer