CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup – Final
Uganda vs Eritrea
StarTimes Stadium, Lugogo
Thursday, 19-12-2019 @4pm
*Third place playoff match – Kenya vs Tanzania @1:30pm
LUGOGO – The Uganda Cranes will be hoping to win a 15th CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup crown when they take on Eritrea in the final on Thursday afternoon at the StarTimes Stadium in Lugogo.
The Cranes have so far been the most outstanding side in the competition, winning all their four games to date.
They finished top of Group A with a perfect three victories from as many games before scrapping past Tanzania 1-0 in the semi-finals.
They will be favourites to win the title and history too suggests they tend to get the job done when on home soil.
Uganda has won all the last three CECAFA tournaments they have hosted (2000, 2008 and 2012). They beat Kenya 2-1 in 2012, four years after they had defeated the same side 1-0. They also won the title on home soil in 2000 when two of their teams (A and B) reached the final.
The fact that they have already defeated Eritrea in this year’s competition also physiologically puts the Cranes in a better position ahead of the game.
The two sides met in the groups with Uganda winning 2-0 thanks to Nicholas Kasozi and Mustafa Kizza’s goals.
After a near to perfect tournament so far, it will be a crisis of sorts if Uganda fails to cross the finish line.
What they are saying ahead of the game
Halid Lwaliwa, Uganda Cranes captain
“I would like to thank the coaching staff and my fellow players for what we have achieved so far.
“The tournament has not been easy up to know from the very first game as we were winning narrowly and having a small period of time to recover.
“We are all waiting for the final and despite the fatigue, we are all ready and can’t wait to play the final game. We will come and try to win the game although it will not be easy but I am confident we will win.”
Jonathan McKinstry, Uganda Cranes head coach
“The spirits are high in the camp after reaching the final.
“Whenever one qualifies for a cup final, it is always a very good thing.
“Almost for all these boys, it is the first time playing in a cup final. In Mutyaba, we have someone who has done it before in 2015 but the other 19; it is something new for them.
“Some have had success at club level but it is the first time at the international level and there is good energy among the group. Despite some sore muscles after a difficult game against Tanzania, we are just looking forward to the game.”
This is Uganda’s first CECAFA final in four years since losing to Ethiopia in the showpiece game back then.
It is also 7 years since they last lifted the trophy and hunger among the football fraternity for the crown is evident.
For Eritrea, this is the first time that they are reaching the final.
Their best performance came in the 1994 edition hosted in Kenya where they reached the semi-finals of the competition before losing to eventual winners Tanzania 1-0.
They went on to finish 4th that year after also losing the third-place playoff game 1-0 to Kenya.
Eritrea have already made history but will be hungry for more after an impressive tournament to their standards.
Two victories, a loss and a draw saw them finish second in Group A and went on to produce one hell of a performance as they defeated Kenya 4-1 in the semi-finals.
Whether Eritrea wins it or not, they have had a tournament to remember and one that may be a catalyst to their growth as a footballing nation.
Uganda Cranes Projected lineup
Charles Lukwago (GK), Paul Willa, Mustafa Kizza, John Revita, Halid Lwaliwa (c), Shafick Kagimu, Bright Anukani, Allan Okello, Viane Sekajugo, Joachim Ojera, Fahad Bayo.