Crested Cranes kickoff the Cecafa Women Championship round robin with familiar opponents Kenya today in Kigali, Rwanda.
The last Cecafa meeting between the two the sides in 2016 saw Kenya run off with a 0-4 win in that campaign’s opener in Njeru.
But the Crested Cranes have grown – if not in results, then in hope and effort as was the case in the 1-0 aggregate defeat to Kenya in the Africa Women Nations Cup qualifiers in March.
“Our togetherness and belief was important in the qualifiers and with it we pose a challenge against Kenya and any other team in this tournament,” Crested Cranes captain Tracy Jones Akiror, said with optimism.
While Uganda put up a spirited defensive performance in Machakos and Lugogo in March, Bulega’s pragmatic plan did not bear fruit as her team gave little going forward.
Big shoes to fill
If they were sterile with Hasifah Nassuna, who was Cecafa top scorer in 2016 when she was partnered by Fazilah Ikwaput, then this campaign’s striking force led by youngster Juliet Nalukenge not only has a lot to prove but big shoes to fill. Nassuna is expected to join Kansas Community College, USA on Monday.
Bulega’s residential training sessions in the last week and the two held in Rwanda over the last two days have been heavy on attacking drills, including set pieces, to give her team a better edge in attack.
“We play four games so we need to take care of ourselves rather than worry about the threats opponents might bring,” Bulega said last Friday.
UGANDA’S PROBABLE XI
Ruth Aturo; Viola Namuddu, Grace Aluka, Shadia
Nankya, Yudaya Nakayenze; Tracy Jones Akiror
(Captain), Esther Naluyimba, Phiona Nabuumba,
Zainah Namuleme; Juliet Nalukenge, Winnie Babirye
TODAY’S FIXTURES – KIGALI
Kenya vs. Uganda, 3pm
Rwanda vs. Tanzania, 5.15pm