After seeing the Egyptions snuff out the last flickering embers of hope in Uganda’s fairytale return to the Africa Nations Cup over the weekend, group mates Mali are set to the sacrificial lamb heading into tonight’s encounter.
Uganda Cranes Probable XI: Denis Onyango (GK), Denis Iguma, Godfrey Walusimbi, Hassan Wasswa, Murushid Jjuuko, Geoffrey Baba Kizito, Khalid Aucho, Tonny Mawejje, Farouk Miya, Joseph Ochaya and Geoffrey Massa (C)
Mali must beat Uganda in Oyem and hope Egypt lose to Ghana in the other Group D match if they are to reach the quarter-finals. This will be the first competitive meeting between the teo countries who have so far failed to score in the ongoing tournament.
Uganda, meanwhile, are already eliminated so will hope to bow out of their finals appearance in 39 years by registering a first goal and a first win and the West Africans won’t be a pushover, Mali have been one of the more relatively successful Nations Cup teams, at least by second-tier standards. They have reached five semi-finals since 1994, and finished third twice.
Little separates the teams on the FIFA rankings with Mali 13th in Africa and 64th in the world and Uganda 18th in Africa and 73rd in the world.
Uganda midfielder Geofrey ‘Baba’ Kizito told Daily Monitor about their final match; ““We have won no match but that is not a reflection of our abilities. Expect 100% from the team yet again. Maybe this time round luck will be on our side. Just maybe.” He added, “We want to fly with a point or three back home. We do not want to play out first tournament in so many years and leave empty handed.”
Mali and Egypt drew 0-0 with each other in their first game and so if they end up locked on the same points and same goal difference (Uganda 0-1 Mali and Ghana 1-0 Egypt), a last resort of the dice will be required to separate them.
The runners-up in Group D will play the Democratic Republic of Congo in the quarterfinal on Sunday.
DR Congo and Morocco went through from Group C on Tuesday with holders Ivory Coast making a surprise early exit.
By Sadiki Adams