KAMPALA, August 25- They admit they may have shot themselves in the foot.
Two easy games should have won but they ended up dropping two points and now Ulinzi Stars must beat Uganda’s Simba on Wednesday afternoon to retain their East Africa Military Games football title.
With Uganda’s commander-in-chief Yoweri Museveni expected to grace the closing ceremony of the 11-day tournament, Uganda will have all the reason to fight for the title they last won at the 2011 Games in Bujumbura, Burundi.
Uganda and Kenya are both on five points, two adrift of leaders Rwanda with Ulinzi looking for record sixth crown.
While Kenya and Uganda battle for victory, Rwanda’s APR will be up the stands crossing fingers the two produce a draw to sneak away with the trophy.
Kenya won the tournament the last time it was held in Uganda in 2008 and have gone on to win all successive tournaments bar the 2011 edition.
Ulinzi’s ambition will be dealt a major blow with the absence of two key players. Right back Brian Birgen and central defender Mohammed ‘Rio’ Hassan will be unavailable after picking red cards in their last match against Tanzania last Friday.
The Kenyan Defence Force side have tried in futility to appeal Birgen’s red which was dished after the match after Ulinzi players mobbing the centre referee complaining of poor officiating.
But midfielder Churchil Muloma will be returning to the team after being suspended for the Tanzania match.
He is expected to partner Boniface Onyango in midfield while Omar Mbongi will drop back to defense with Antony Muriithi expected to slot at right back.
“It will be a tough match especially with Birgen and Hassan missing because they are key members of the squad. However, we shall still give our best. I know Uganda is a tough team and we are tough as well, we are no pushovers.” Matano said.
“The players know what is needed of them and they have psyched themselves up and I am optimistic we will be winners come Wednesday evening,” a confident Matano added.
The last two times these two sides met, they played out to draws.
In 2013 when the tournament was played in Kenya, they drew 2-2 with Ulinzi coming from two goals down while last year, they played out to a one-all draw.
Uganda will be led by Bandari FC skipper and former AFC Leopards midfield powerhouse Mudde Musa who is a member of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF).
Sony Sugar winger and former Tusker FC hitman Robert Omunuk, the current tournament top scorer with three is expected to lead the line for the Ugandans.
“Ulinzi is a tough team, I have played them before and I know the danger they pose. They are a team on form as they are currently second in the KPL compared to our team which has not even started the season here,” Mudde noted.
“But we will be motivated by playing at home and we will want to give our fans a good final day gift. We know we can do it and so Ulinzi should be prepared for a tough match,” Mudde added.