KAMPALA. Last year, veteran forward Mathias Ochwo told this reporter that Uganda had the potential to qualify for next year’s Rugby World Cup in Tokyo, Japan. But he was quick to stress the ‘if’ factor.
“If we can hold our own in away games and win all our home games, who knows?”
Fast-forward to today. Ochwo is ‘retired’, and Uganda lost their two opening matches; 55-06 to Namibia and 38-22 to Kenya, which buried Uganda’s hopes.
Seated in third place on five points gathered from thumping Tunisia 67-12 last weekend, Uganda host Morocco this evening at Kyadondo, looking to maintain the momentum against another North African opponent. Coach John Duncan and assistant Robert Seguya know that a win will have a big say in helping Uganda maintain her place in the continent’s top tier (1A). They also know that the top three teams will host three matches next year.
To achieve this, Duncan will need his troops to be at their very best, from the opening gong. Uganda looked shaky against Tunisia, and the try they conceded in the second minute was testament to this.
“We have been working on our defence and ball retention. Morocco will also want to strike us early but this time we shall make sure that we are on the front foot from the first minute,” revealed captain Asuman Mugerwa.
Ivan Magomu is the only change in the run-on 15. Magomu regains his coveted No.10 jersey after being left out against Tunisia on disciplinary grounds. His return should oil the back-line more than ever. He has the hunger and temperament and in his own words, he wants to ‘prove some people wrong’.
Center of attraction
Full-back Philip Wokorach, who won the man-of-the-match on the back of his 37 points against Tunisia, will again be the center of attraction. His easy-on-the-eye style, which left even first-time rugby spectators yelling his praises, should give the visitors a torrid evening. In the other game, Kenya will host Tunisia at the RFUEA Grounds, Nairobi. Kenya 7s star ‘Big’ Willy Ambaka will make his 15s debut after being announced in the starting lineup that coach Ian Snook released on Thursday.
Starting XV : 1. Martial Tchuckman 2. Paul Sekate 3. Asuman Mugerwa (captain) 4. Charles Uhuru 5. Robert Aziku 6. Byron Oketayot 7. Brian Asaba 8. Eliphaz Emong 9. Aaron Oforyworth 10. Ivan Magomu 11. James Odong 12. Pius Ogena 13. Michael Wokorach 14. Justin Kimono (vice- captain) 15.Philip Wokorach
Replacements: 16. Collins Kimbowa 17. Santos Ssenteza 18. Joseph Tamale 19. Simon Olet 20. Ronald Musajja 21. Eric Mula 22. Solomon Okia 23. Conrad Wanyama