Uganda coach Micho Sredojevic believes the outcome of the Guinea game could depend more on mental strength than technical skill.
The Cranes come into the game on the back of an impressive 1-1 away draw against Ghana while Guinea, 2-1 winners over Togo in their opener will look to keep momentum.
There are mind games to be overcome on both sides of the centre circle on Wednesday night; Guinea have to forget disruptive off-field politics while Uganda have to overcome their historic position as underdogs as well as a poor record against West African opponents.
“It won’t be a technical match, they [Guinea] are going to be fighting as well. We are ready to go to battle and it is a big one and I have told my boys to up their game, come Wednesday,” Micho told Red Pepper Online edition in an exclusive interview.
“[But] I’ve got confidence with the kind of players that we’ve assembled here and I’m confident that we’ll get something out of the game.”
The national team coach has also warned his players not to assume the Sly Nationale will be below par on the night due to Uganda’s super record at Namboole or their off-field distractions with Ebola back home in West Africa.
Uganda Cranes hasn’t lost a home game in ten years. Cranes’ last home loss came in 2004 against South Africa’s Bafana Bafana.
“It [the outcome of the game] will depend on us individually. The Ebola epidemic in Guinea and all that, it’s not a technical thing, it’s a natural thing. We all know what they can do.
“We can only hope that our boys don’t buy into that. They must just shut off from all those noises, prepare for the game and look forward.”
WCQ, 23/04/2000: Guinea 3-0 Uganda
WCQ, 08/04/2000: Uganda 4-4 Guinea
Afcon finals 1976: Guinea 2-1 Uganda
But that is what Micho is exactly hoping will inspire his players, just like it did against Ghana at the weekend, when they face Michael Dussuyer’s Guinea tonight. “The fact is that in the last Africa Cup of Nations, out of eight quarterfinalists seven of them they have come from West Africa,” Micho told Daily Monitor.
“This is a generation of Guinea players that has given so much to African football. We are pleased to have a team that we are together in this same, very competitive group.
“But I’m excited with the talent that we have. I believe in our players, I believe in our work, I believe that despite the market value of the other three teams in the group.
But with Geoffrey Massa oozing gusts of fresh intent; beating opponents for pace and making Dennis Onyango’s palms and wrists work in Monday’s night training session at Namboole, Micho might be forced to sacrifice Brian Umony, or use both and lose one man in a five-man midfield he employed against the Black Stars.
Uganda’s last meeting with Guinea in Kampala ended in a 3-1 victory for Uganda at Nakivubo. The game was a 2002 AFCON qualifier. Hassan Mubiru netted a brace with Andrew Mukasa netting the other. Pascal Feindouno netted Guinea’s consolation.
Micho is expected announce his starting eleven for the Group E clash against Guinea at 7.30pm today.
Uganda’s probable X1
Dennis Onyango, Godfrey Walusimbi, Dennis Guma, Andy Mwesigwa (cpt), Savio Kabugo, Khalid Aucho, Geoffrey ‘Baba’ Kizito, Tonny Mawejje, Moses Oloya, Kizito Luwagga, Geoffrey Massa,
Subs: Robert Odongkara, Richard Kasagga, Isaac Isinde, Alex Kakuba, Brian Majwega, Brian Umony, Robert Ssentongo