Cranes must show worth in Egypt tie

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In the opposite camp, the seven-time African champions, Egypt, will mainly focus on their players’ fitness as their coach, Bob Bradley, assesses them ahead of 2013 Nations Cup and 2014 World Cup qualifying.

“Coach Bradley has noticed that most of the players aren’t fully fit, because they haven’t played in any official games since the cancellation of the Egyptian Premier League,” Zaki Abdel-Fattah, the team goalkeeping coach told The Egyptian Gazette.

Bobby Williamson, the Cranes coach, will be daring players like Saddam Juma, Noah Semakula, Israel Emuge, Steven Bengo and Caesar Okuhti to show what they are made of.

Then, there is the small matter of earning a place or two in the teams that will face Congo Brazzaville in Uganda’s 2013 Nations Cup return leg against Congo Brazzaville and 2014 World Cup qualifiers in June.

Most of these aforementioned players have been in and out of the Cranes or underage teams, their promise falling short when needed most.

Twenty-three-year-old Juma, for example, whose last national side appearance ironically came in the same country during Africa Nations Championships last year, has had troubles of his own.

Injuries and an unsettled club career led to loss of form, forcing him to return from a stint in Vietnam to Bunnamwaya. Juma’s ability has never been questioned but it’s time he brought it through – same with Emuge, Ssemakula and Okuhti.

Then there is rejuvenated Bengo since his January return from URA to SC Villa, with two goals to his name in his last three club games.

Few players in the country possess Bengo’s ball playing skills, ability to operate in limited spaces, and that occasional free kick.

Bobby will surely count on him to break down the more technically gifted Egyptians.

And it will not be an easy audition for the Cranes youngsters, who could include little-known Fabian Kizito, with confirmation that top Egyptian stars will be on show. “Al-Ahly and Zamalek players will be available for the Uganda friendly, but not the Chad friendly,” Fattah added.

Al-Ahly boast of stars like Mohamed Aboutrika and Mohamed Gedo while Zamalek have Amr Zaki and Mido.

By ANDREW MWANGUHYA, Daily Monitor

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