Kampala. The Northern Bypass boulevard has since been constructed and Mandela National Stadium, Namboole – venue for today’s clash – built since Orlando Pirates were last in town 20 years ago.
But for locals, memories of Gavin Lane leaping highest to head through Abu Higenyi’s floppy hands on 89 minutes and cancel out Andrew Arinaitwe’s earlier strike that evening remain. And URA, who know that 90-plus minutes stand between them and the second round of the Caf Confederations Cup when they face the Buccaneers today, will not want a repeat of the 1995 events at Nakivubo.
Should they win by the minimum 1-0 needed to proceed to the second round, it will have been the furthest URA have ever gone since making their continental debut in 2006.
Yet the 1995 memories hang. Then, Express had lost to Pirates 1-0 in Johannesburg and the Buccaneers were on course to being eliminated at Nakivubo until that Lane header at the death prevented the Ugandans from making their first ever Champions League final.
Pirates progressed 2-1 on aggregate and went on to beat Ivory Coast’s ASEC Abidjan 3-2 on aggregate and claim Africa clubs’ premium prize.
“I did not watch that match in 1995 but it was painful the way Express was eliminated,” said Alex Isabirye, the URA coach. “But we know what we need to do and we will try not to be careless with the ball. Our opponents are good with the ball but we are not afraid of them.”
With Robert Ssentongo – scorer of URA’s three of five continental goals in the campaign – out suspended, Peter Lwasa injured and Frank Kalanda only expected to occupy the bench, Isabirye is likely to deploy midfielder Patrick Ochan as a makeshift striker – just as against SCVU on Tuesday.
Ali Feni and Said Kyeyune should offer the creative spark behind him while Simeon Masaba and Jonathan Mugabi’s concentration is key against lethal Lehlohonolo Majoro.
“We expect him (Majoro) to come good for us in Uganda the same way he did in the first-leg, when he came off the bench to score an excellent goal,” said Pirates coach Eric Tinkler. URA will hope otherwise.
URA probable XI
Brian Bwete (gk), Simeon Masaba (c), Allan Munaaba, Jonathan Mugabi, Samuel Senkoomi, Yasser Mugerwa, Saidi Kyeyune, Moses Ali Feni, Dickson Kigongo, James Kasibante, Patrick Ochan
PIRATES SQUAD IN KAMPALA
Brighton Mhlongo, Philanih Zikalala, Rooi Mahamutsa, Happy Jele, Thabo Matlaba, Ayanda Gcaba, Oupa Manyisa (c), Thandani Ntshumayelo, Ntsikelelo Nyauza, Sifiso Myeni, Issa Sarr, Kermit Erasmus, Luyanda Bacela, Lehlohonolo Majoro, Lehlogonolo Masalesa, Mpho Makola, Thabo Rakhale, Helder Pelembe
SOURCE: Daily Monitor