Robert Seguya insists that Rugby Cranes will not be ‘weakened by absences’ when they face Tunisia this Saturday in the Africa Gold Cup.
The coach insists it was always part of the plan to change in a year when the national team has to play their biggest number of games in a calendar year.
“This (eventualities of injuries and otherwise) is the reason why we have insisted a group of 40 from the onset. We have kept that,” Seguya said. “We are fielding a very strong team.”
Some of the changes are forced as eighth man Marvin Odongo and scrumhalf Ivan Kirabo are out injured and sick respectively.
Odongo, winner of two man-of-the-match awards in three internationals this year, will not play again in 2017 due to an ankle problem. Kenya-based Kirabo is carrying malaria and typhoid. Kirabo’s halfback partner Ivan Magomu is on the bench as Aaron Ofoywroth starts for the first time with Philip Wokorach moving from fullback to fly-half. James Odong moves from the left wing to fullback, his natural position, for Uganda third on the six-team log on six points after the 17-16 victory in Senegal. Namibia have 10 points. Kenya are on eight.
Marvin Odongo’s place is taken by Ronald Musajja whom Seguya explains “has been struggling for fitness” this year. “You cannot call us weak because of one or two players. We aren’t weakened by absences, I promise,” said Seguya.
Similarly, Byron Oketayot walks into the 15 after warming the bench through three games and many will agree that this is the best time to ‘rest’ players as Tunisia are the bottom side.
“We expect another physical game but we just to work hard remain humble and keep our feet on the ground as we continue to improve on everything we can,” South African coach John Duncan intimated.
Tunisia arrived here after losing 100-10 to Kenya and have conceded 153 points thus far. It’s highly unlikely that they could repeat their 41-17 triumph in their last visit in 2009. The biggest excitement could, however, be reserved for Justin Kimono. Taking Odong’s slot on the wing, this will be Kimono’s first start since 2015.
Memories of his two tries on debut in a 25-15 loss to Zimbabwe at Kyadondo back in 2011 have never faded.
“He is ready,” Seguya declared. Lock Mike Otto, who played for Uganda at U-19 level, could debut from the bench where Joseph Tamale, Santos Ssenteza await their chance too.
The tight five and central midfield pairing have been kept intact.
RUGBY CRANES – STARTING XV
Asuman Mugerwa, Alex Mubiru, Brian Odongo, Charles Uhuru, Mathias Ochwo, Oketayot, Brian Asaba, Musajja, Ofoywroth, Wokorach, Justin Kimono, Pius Ogena, Michael Wokorach, Lawrence Sebuliba, Odong
Tamale, Ssenteza, Adnan Mutebi, Mike Otto, Cox Muhigwa, Ivan Markmot, Magomu, Gerald Ssewankambo