Uganda chase Africa Cup dream in Tunisia
Five years ago, Rugby Cranes beat Kenya 24-12 enroute clinching the Confederation of African Rugby (CAR) Africa Cup.That semifinal on the island of Madagascar is cited by many members of that great side as one that delivered the much needed belief to lift the Holy Grail.
In fact, some think it made the final against the hosts a lot easier with Uganda cruising to 42-11 victory.
Today in Jemmel, Tunisia, coach Yayiro Kasasa can design a similar path as his team faces Kenya, again, in the semis of the same competition.
In the other semifinal, the hosts face tournament favourites Zimbabwe. Kenya are the defending champions and the top three can advance to next year’s 2015 World Cup qualifiers. Kasasa, without any of his assistants due to financial constraints, has eight survivors from the ‘stale’ victory over Kenya including the skipper Mathias Ochwo.
Cranes should also be riding high on confidence having beaten the Lions to reclaim the two-team Elgon Cup for the first time in six years back in April.
Uganda won the home leg 19-4 through tries from lock Romano Ogwal and wing Justin Kimono before losing the Nairobi leg 12-0.
Flanker Ochwo was player-of-series. “Everyone will treat this like a final, the decider at a neutral venue,” Kasasa noted. A strong pack played a big part and an improving backline delivered the trophy. The soggy conditions made the return leg much harder.
Also, scrumhalf Anthony Kinene’s wayward kicking didn’t help matters. In all, the team played very well and fittingly, there was no reason for an overhaul but the North African heat provides another dimension.
Tight head prop Ronald Adigasi, fly-half Edmond Tumusiime and wing Felix Lubega, veterans of 2007, are the major additions.
Prop Asuman Mugerwa is the only uncapped player in the side that has 13 forwards and 11 backs but is likely to be a reserve. Eighthman Andrew Olweny, also the reigning Most Valuable Player (MVP), returns from injury to offer some needed pace to the back row.
Besides this Africa Cup tier 1A, several other tournaments involving teams in tiers 1B and 1C are also competing in Madagascar and Botswana.