Tusker Challenge Cup 2012
Malawi vs Zanzibar
Eritrea vs Rwanda
As you close your eyes to pray for the national team Amavubi in Cecafa, better we all utter similar words in our prayers, since deep down in our memories, we know how awkward the situation of having to explain failure .
Amavubi’s crucial opener was superb, with several convincing performances and anchor-point to scratch for goals, and this strongly suggests that at minimum, they have buoyancy in this group stage, going into this competition as last year’s runners up is a far cry from taking the helm on the opening day.
I was shocked by a few things. Firstly the apparent show by captain Haruna and striker Jimmy Mbaraga is remarkable.
Certainly they are good players; Haruna’s long range strike sent the opponents to the dog, that’s why the Tanzanian based player is a focal point. Haruna and ‘Titi’ Ntamuhanga, Tumaina’s freedom to roam freely pays off as creative players.
To be brutally honest, Mbaraga will grace if he picks precious experience, the fact that his few sluggish slip-ups still baffle as a goal getter.
But the option of Sina Jerome and Dady Birori can offer much promise as fine stand-in. Mentally, Sina falls back to assist in worst counters given his role at club level in Rayon Sport.
It is up to coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojovic to secure Amavubi’s grace without a glitch. The tactical change between Jean Claude Iranzi and Sina is imposing against opponents who intend to illustrate aggression with two forwards while attacking with a favor of aerial passes that tend to cause problems to his weak defence.
I’m sure Amavubi will improve with the ascension of centre back combination amid Jean Baptiste Mugiraneza, Jean Damuru and Fabric Twagizimana.
Micho’ has leant that his wings rarely fling the in-swings’ and tall players like Mugiranza, who can head balls are sometimes tasked back to pack the mid-field. For Amavubi to succeed the backline of Ismail Nshutiyamagara and Emery Bayisenge needs not to be shaky. In fairness Mwemere Girinshuti on the left back is a wholehearted steady lad but imagine him facing Tanzania or Cranes of Uganda and we all know where we’d put our money.
Now onto the man of the moment, keeper Jean Claudi Ndoli; I don’t see the fuss to do with the stadium lights; much as his defence is ready to score in his net, given their indolent clearance.
Well, we all certainly know his hobble amid goal posts; perhaps any lack of focus might cause a mischief.
But in soccer anything can happen. At a certain level of support, they can certainly trouble this Group, or whatever else they have to offer. Thursday’s 2-1 loss to Zanzibar makes Saturday’s last group game against Eritrea a must-win, as anything less, could mean ending into tricky mathematics.
If this happens then maybe, just maybe, Micho can delight when he brings the best XMAS-gift to Kigali this year!