Uganda vs Egypt – 10pm
Mali vs Ghana – 7pm
Starting line-up: D Onyango (GK), D.Iguma, G.Walusimbi, H. Wasswa, M. Juuko, K. Aucho, G. Kizito , T, Mawejje, F Miya, G.Massa (Capt), J. Ochaya.
Cranes can look back at their second half performance against Ghana as an indication they can match the very best at the African Cup of Nations.
They will need that level of performance, and more, when they face record seven-time champions Egypt today. Uganda’s record against the Pharaohs shows only one previous win – in a friendly.
“We need to be mentally strong, physically fit and tactically competitive in that game and see what football gives us,” admitted coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic.
Uganda played well for much of their opening match against Ghana but Micho was left to lament a mistake by defender Isaac Isinde that gave the Black Stars the decisive penalty.
The Cranes are now looking for their first win at the Cup of Nations after 39 years away from the tournament and they can welcome back defender Murushid Juuko and midfielder Khalid Aucho after both served bans against Ghana.
“It is very unfortunate that one moment, one silly mistake cost us the penalty,” Uganda coach “Micho” told AFP.
“It is very unfortunate that despite all the domination we had in the second half, we could not score.
“But we have picked up the pieces, we have learnt the lesson and we are moving forward to the next game.
Defeat today will mean certain group-stage elimination in their first appearance at the tournament in 39 years.
|18 Jan 1962||Egypt v Uganda||L||2-1||Africa Cup of Nations|
|04 Apr 1965||Uganda v Egypt||W||5-1||International Friendly|
|04 Jun 1967||Uganda v Egypt||L||0-1||Africa Cup of Nations|
|03 Dec 1972||Egypt v Uganda||D||2-2||International Friendly|
|01 Mar 1974||Egypt v Uganda||L||2-1||Africa Cup of Nations|
|03 Mar 1976||Egypt v Uganda||L||2-1||Africa Cup of Nations|
|18 Nov 1977||Egypt v Uganda||L||1-0||International Friendly|
|21 Jan 1995||Uganda v Egypt||D||0-0||Africa Cup of Nations|
|28 Jul 1995||Egypt v Uganda||L||6-0||Africa Cup of Nations|
|20 Aug 2002||Egypt v Uganda||L||2-0||International Friendly|
|29 Dec 2002||Egypt v Uganda||D||0-0||African Games|
|08 Jan 2005||Egypt v Uganda||L||3-0||International Friendly|
|27 Dec 2005||Egypt v Uganda||L||2-0||LG Cup|
|08 Jan 2011||Egypt v Uganda||L||1-0||International Friendly|
|17 Jan 2011||Egypt v Uganda||L||3-1||International Friendly|
|29 Mar 2012||Egypt v Uganda||L||2-1||International Friendly|
|14 Aug 2013||Egypt v Uganda||L||3-0||International Friendly|
|21 Jan 2017||Egypt v Uganda||Africa Cup of Nations|
I wish the Uganda Cranes best of luck as they face Egypt this evening in their second AFCON game in Gabon.
— Yoweri K Museveni (@KagutaMuseveni) January 21, 2017
To our National Team, my prayer is that tonight you will do your best and God will do the rest. pic.twitter.com/Vde90Rqug8
— Janet K Museveni (@JanetMuseveni) January 21, 2017
— Uganda FA [FUFA] (@OfficialFUFA) January 21, 2017
— Parliament of Uganda (@Parliament_UG) January 21, 2017
Egypt goalkeeping crisis
Egypt disappointed in their first appearance at the Cup of Nations after a seven-year absence, with star man Mohamed Salah being substituted in the second half following a poor display.
Egypt enter the game with goalkeeping worries following injury to their first choice in the draw with Mali.
Injury has also affected the other team in the group Ghana, with coach Avram Grant has called for Africa Cup of Nations organisers to allow teams to replace players who have suffered injuries because of the state of the pitches in Gabon.
The Black Stars have lost left-back Abdul Rahman Baba to a serious knee injury suffered in the first half of Ghana’s 1-0 win against Uganda on Tuesday.
Egypt also lost goalkeeper Ahmed El Shennawy to injury, and with Sherif Ekramy also in the treatment room suddenly coach Hector Cuper has a bit of a crisis.
Essam El Hadary, who came off the bench against Mali to become the oldest player ever at the tournament at the age of 44, will now start against Uganda in Saturday’s second game.
“Our responsibility has not changed too much. We still know that we need to win our next game to stay in the competition,” admitted Cuper.
Ghana target last-eight berth, Egypt chase first win
Ghana can secure a place in the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations with a group game to spare if they beat Mali in Group D in Port-Gentil on Saturday.
Avram Grant’s side, beaten on penalties by the Ivory Coast in the 2015 final, set themselves up nicely in this year’s tournament by edging out Uganda 1-0 courtesy of an Andre Ayew spot-kick in their opening match on Tuesday.
It was not a vintage performance from the Black Stars but, on a terrible playing surface, Grant is only interested in winning matches for now, regardless of the manner in which they do it.
“In this tournament at the start it’s important to take the points and then you have to come to your best at the right time,” said the Israeli former Chelsea coach.
“In the last tournament we played very good against Senegal in the first game and we lost, even if at the end of the day we got to the final, so we just wanted to take the three points.
“Of course we can play better but this is a tournament and every game will be different.”
Five facts for the Group D match between Egypt and Uganda in Port-Gentil Saturday :
— Tradition suggests Egypt will win 2-1 because that was the scoreline in their favour on the three previous occasions they met Uganda in the competition.
— The Pharaohs overcame the Cranes in a 1962 semi-final and during the group phase of the 1974 and 1976 tournaments.
— While Egypt have won the Cup of Nations a record seven times, Uganda came closest to glory in 1978 when finishing runners-up to hosts Ghana.
— Both countries have been notable absentees from the tournament with Egypt missing the last three editions while Uganda are appearing following a 39-year break.
— Striker Mohamed Salah is the best known Egyptian while Ugandan goalkeeper Denis Onyango won the 2016 Africa-based Footballer of the Year award.