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Elgon Cup: The squad to take on Kenya

The Rugby Cranes to take on Kenya in the Elgon Cup on Saturday. Source: UgrugbyFanzone
The Rugby Cranes to take on Kenya in the Elgon Cup on Saturday. Source: UgrugbyFanzone

Looking at the final 23-man rugby Cranes squad to face a high-flying (pun intended) Kenya side Saturday afternoon, many a fan and rugby fraternity have mixed feelings.

It will be very unfamiliar having old guards Mathias Ochwo and Alex Mubiru, both fit, sit out this affair. The duo was the base on which a largely rejuvenated side of debutants reclaimed the Elgon Cup last year and gained promotion to Tier 1A.

Even in the face of hardships and threatening boycott over unpaid allowances, it was them that convinced the boys to walk onto pitch before they mauled Botswana with untold wrath in Kampala last year to ascend to Tier 1A.

Head coach Robert Seguya who has fondly been baptised Malia Mungu last year entrusted a lethal quartet that plies their trade in Kenya with defending champions Kabras.

Gerald Sewankambo, James Odong, Cyrus Wathum and Charles Uhuru made quite a stir and gave Kenyans hard time; they know their game. This time round Ronald Musajjagulanyago, who joined Harlequins, is an addition. This should give fans some belief.

There is icing to the cake – fullback, top try league scorer and debutant (surprisingly) Phillip Wokorach should add flair to the game, if his talismanic performance in the last league game between archrivals Kobs and Heathens is anything to go by.

Picking the minds

National hooker and 2007 African rugby champion Alex Mubiru gives the team 51%. “I know most of the Kenyan team that is coming; these boys should put in something. They can make it, he says.”

Asked why he is not on the squad he says he and Mathias needed to rest because the league has been very demanding. He promises that he will play the return leg and the Namibia Tier 1A tie in Kampala later this month. Otherwise he and Mathias will be entertaining Kenya’s 7s champion Collins Injera in the stands.

The national team was this close to boycotting the Botswana game in Kampala last year during the Tier 1B tourney as they sparred with the Union over unpaid allowances.

Following the Elgon Cup victory in Kampala last year, Union secretary Godwin Kayangwe was heard assuring a player the win, and the pride therein, was more important than the money. He asked the player if he did not feel immensely proud for playing for his country.

Sadly that is not a tale that is about to end.

Rugby pundit and ‘interpreter’ David Mutaka is fully confident the squad will perform. “We got this!” Mutaka is also famed for having spoilt a Kenya rugby party in Nairobi when the speedstar bedazzled infront of a stunned crowd to make a last minute try during a similar encounter.

Rugby ‘beast’ (South Africans loath this one) Winnie Atyang is more scathing in her scrutiny. “I have full confidence in the backs; they will do the job.” However she says most of the forwards are lazy.

“The backs will really get tired because they will tackle like their lives depend on it. I don’t see the forwards putting in as much. Brian Odong has a bad knee; though, with Asuman and Kasita starting, we might have a chance. Those two are very hungry and will give their all.”

She also notes that the boys have to start hitting and attacking from the word go. “Kenya is a physical side; when you play their game they get frustrated.”

Rugby columnist Peter Ofwong is non committal, though believes the team will have a hard task against Kenya. “We’ll just have to wait and see; get there early, take your beer and enjoy the party!”

Former Kobs coach Ronnie Lutakome says Seguya is a man who believes in hard work, hence his choice of players.

“With Seguya you have to train, and hard. You have to show up.” This resonates generally among the fans.

Coach Seguya is not a man known for softies; you have to sweat it out. He is a rugby legend, African champion and has seen generations of players come and go. He is also a known adversary among the Kenyans. He knows what it takes to get results.

On the whole at the end of the day, we don’t care if Kenya will be playing a test match in Brazil thereafter; the Cranes whipped them last year after they played the likes of Portugal and whatever else.

Though the team might be much different, a Migingo affair is a Migingo affair; that said, this should be a cracker of a game!

 

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