KAMPALA – Uganda will enter the football pitch on Tuesday with a prayer to beat hosts Egypt in their own back yard in the 2018 World Cup qualifier.
While some analysts say this would be an uphill task when the two teams clash in Alexandria, there are possibilities that Uganda may win.
The east African country last Thursday defeated Egypt 1-0 when they met in Kampala for the first leg of the World Cup qualifier.
“We have reached a level where we can take on any team in the world. This is the best chance for us to be at the World Cup. We are going to win away to Egypt on Tuesday,” Moses Basena, Uganda’s national coach told Xinhua.
Basena said facing a good team like Egypt is always tough, but added that his players are very motivated to get a result away from home.
“Winning away means a lot for us in this campaign and we must handle the match with a lot of caution,” he added.
It would be a big boost for the Uganda Cranes to go four points clear in Group E if they win the game before they host the Black Stars of Ghana in October and travel to face Congo Brazzaville in November.
“We are not going to take the peddle off because we need to get a good result in Egypt. It would be good to go four points clear in the group,” said the goalkeeper’s coach Fred Kajoba.
Uganda have never come this close in a World Cup qualifying campaign.
Last Thursday Emmanuel Arnold Okwi netted the lone goal against Egypt in Kampala to ensure Uganda took lead of Group E with seven points, while Egypt are second on six points.
Some analysts think it will be a tight hurdle to jump in Egypt for Uganda Cranes.
“Playing North African teams in their backyard is not aways easy and I think because of the better technical approach and good playing surface together with the home support, Egypt will get the win,” said Fred Musisi.
After qualification for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations after 39 years of waiting, the Ugandan Cranes are optimistic this is another opportunity for them to break the jinx and make it to the world top stage.
While failure to qualify for the World Cup will not bring financial benefit to the team, it will bring more top level exposure to the team and yet qualification has a cash guarantee of over one million U.S. dollars.
Seven-time African champions Egypt will play without injured veteran 44-year old goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary who sustained the injury after colliding with defender Ahmed Hegazi last Thursday in Kampala.