WHO ARE OUR PENALTY TAKERS?
Uganda v Zambia
11.30 am – 5 hours to go: New Vision’s Senior Sports writer James Bakama in stadium, ” Gates open. Chanting and vuvuzela blowing fans clad in national colours start streaming in.”
Sports editor Fred Kaweesi, ” Cranes holding their final meeting now in which coach Bobby will name the side. No player knows if they are starting. They will then have lunch, then proceed to stadium.
10.50am – about 5 hours to go: So far, the weather is kind here in Kampala, and all roads are sure leading to Namboole Stadium. The skies are a warm azure blue, the temperatures are sweltering. This is the kind of weather the fans want for a day like this.
The excitement all over is unmistakable. Uganda soccer fans are dressed sporty. Vuvuzelas are deafening the chirps of the birds in the clear skies, and the birds seem to be respecting the ‘take-over’. Simply euphoric!.
We are only a few hours away and it’s a beehive of activity along the way to Namboole.
7.30am – 9 hours to go: Mind games start as New Vision gets Zambian legend Kalusha Bwalya’s tweets from last night: ”Chipolopolo will kit out in green top, green short and green socks” and “Chipolopolo excellent training this afternoon in Kampala’s Mandela Stadium. Ready for tomorrow for sure.” Today he tweeted this “Chipolopolo just doing some loose warming up now at hotel. Looking good the boys”
6.30am – 10 hours to go: It is daybreak in KAMPALA. Charles Mutebi gives you an insight into the tactics that will be used this afternoon. CRANES NEED A REALISTIC APPROACH.
6.30pm – 22 hours to go: A very unhappy Zambia team conclude training and return to their hotel. They had wanted a closed session but were surrounded by journalists. Just a few officials “hanging around” now at Namboole, saying they want to meet match officials and look at jerseys.
5.30pm – 23 hours to go: Zambian coaching staff now very unhappy with the mass presence of ugandan journos & are trying to have them leave or expelled to the stands. No luck with that so far, reports Pius Arinawe.
4.30pm – 24 hours to go: Zambian delegation requesting stadium security to push fans and media out of the stadium, signs of panic creeping in. Want to train in private.
Zambia Training starts – Rainford Kalaba and Jacob Mulenga not here so it wasn’t mind games. Kalusha Bwalya here, warm up set to start, reports Fred Kaweesi.
Head coach Renard watching from the sidelines as his assistant takes the players through stretching. Trust uganda with last minute preps, dressing rooms have just been repainted, white bars around the vip being repainted.
3.30pm – 25 hours to go: Zambia national team arrive under full police escort at Mandela stadium for their training session, reports Pius Arinawe.
2.30pm – 26 hours to go: Zambia board their bus, head to Nambole for their training session due to start at 4pm. Tickets sales improve as fans gather more interest in the game. No sales tickets will be done at stadium tomorrow.
1.30PM -27 hours to go: Heavy rains hit Kampala, likely to affect Zambia training this afternoon. Predictions are heavy rains all day and early tomorrow, with the pitch slippery but drying in time for kick-off. THE FULL FORECAST: 6:15am: sunrise — sunset will be at 6:23pm — today’s forecast: heavy rain, 24/18°C — tomorrow: mostly cloudy, 24/16°C
12.30PM -28 hours to go: The Zambians, led by Kalusha Bwalya, have had a walk around their Sheraton Hotel. No training until 4pm today.
11.30AM -29 hours to go: Cranes coach Bobby Williamson has just finished a closed training session at Mandela stadium, Nambole. It is at this morning-before session that he lays his final plans, and we could say his starting XI is now confirmed.
10.30AM – 30 hours to go: If Cranes register a 1-0 win over Africa Champions Zambia tomorrow, it means this decisive Nations Cup qualifying fixture will then have to be decided in a penalty shoot-out, writes Fred Kaweesi.
It means either team’s prospects of progressing to the finals in South Africa next year will largely be determined by the safe hands of Denis Onyango (Cranes) and Kennedy Mweene (Chipolopolo).
Interestingly, the two goalkeepers, who coincidentally ply their trades in South Africa, have curved out reputations as fantastic penalty stoppers over the years.
But who are the five heroes that will step forward for those dreaded kicks if destiny calls.
Normally, players would have to volunteer but it is always safe to have a group mentally prepared that can be counted on for moments like this.
As it is, Godfrey Walusimbi is Cranes first choice and will step forward as the first. The second will likely be Geoffrey Massa. He is highly regarded by his colleagues. Simeon Masaba would have stepped in as the third but decided to distance himself from penalties since last year’s CECAFA tournament when he missed his.
It means Andy Mwesigwa and Emmanuel Okwi could take the third or fourth. Goalkeeper Onyango would then take the fifth.
Onyango will come as a surprise but not to those that have watched him take a number in training before. The gangly goalkeeper is a reliable figure!
Updates courtesy of NewVision Uganda