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Following their first leg win over Kenya in Nairobi, there were high expectations for the Rugby Cranes to retain the Elgon Cup but Kenya’s return leg victory exposed several cracks within the Ugandan team that need to be ironed out before the two teams meet again in the Africa Cup in a fortnight.

Felix Eupal analyses the lessons from the defeat.

Lady Cranes on the up

The Lady Cranes’ 18-8 win over the Kenya Lionesses is a welcome boost to the women’s game. Not only did they win the Ladies Elgon Cup, the victory earned them a berth against South Africa in the final qualification round for the Women World Cup due next year.
The Lady Cranes have never faced South Africa before and will be massive underdogs.

However, Lady Cranes skipper remains confident: “We were able to work on our mistakes and we have been there before. So, we will do our best against South Africa.”

Uganda needs a special player

With Uganda trailing in second half, the team lacked individual brilliance after the Kenyans double-marked star man Justin Kimono and gave him no chance. Sometimes, teamwork isn’t everything.

Previously, Lawrence Wakabi used to provide some magic moments but his powers waned. Meanwhile, Phillip Wokorach is still nursing a broken leg.

Twenty-one-year-old Joseph Aredo, who impressed on his debut on Saturday, needs to be moulded into the champion the he believes he is.

Magona’s work cut out

Rugby Cranes coach Peter Magona managed to pass his first test when he won the first leg in Nairobi. Admittedly, it was a sloppy win and in the wake of the home defeat, he needs to get the team running. For starters, Ken Adora, whose boot contributed the bulk of Kenyan points, taught the Rugby Cranes a lesson in kicking.

On Uganda’s part, Aredo, Bishop Onen and Jasper Ochen could have won it for Uganda had they converted the numerous penalties. On the other hand, Uganda lacks a scrumhalf. Davis Kiwalyabe came on late to solve that but his petite size makes him unsuitable for the role.

In two weeks’ time, the Rugby Cranes will face Kenya in the Africa Cup opener. The tournament pits together the top four teams in Africa. Last year, Uganda defeated Kenya at the semifinals before falling to Zimbabwe in the final. Madagascar is the other nation in the competition.

Not a bad start to Owor’s regime

Andrew Owor was elected Rugby Union boss earlier this year, taking over from William Blick. So far, he has steered the ship well and one of his first masterstrokes was signing a deal with UBC to televise Rugby Cranes matches live.

Looking forward to the Superior Cup

The newly-created Superior Cup between the league champions of Uganda and Kenya is a welcome boost for the sport. Ugandan champions Heathens are already geared up for the showdown as player Faisal Gama says: “We are ready, part of the team is on the national team and the rest of us we are keeping fit. We will bring this home.”
We cannot wait.

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