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We’re playing for Abel Dhaira tonight – Cranes

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Afcon qualifier

Tonight at 7pm

Uganda vs Burkina Faso, Namboole stadium

Match Tickets: Shs20, 000 (Ordinary), Shs50,000 (VIP), Shs120,000 (VVIP)

In times of grief, bravery arises. This is exactly the mood in Cranes camp ahead of a crucial tie against Burkina Faso in the 2017 AFCON qualifiers.

This follows the death of ex-teammate Abel Dhaira who passed away on Sunday in Iceland due to abdominal cancer.

Longtime pal and teammate, striker Hamis ‘Diego’ Kiiza believes the only way to send off Dhaira is by winning the game on Tuesday.

“It’s a somber mood as you know,” he started. “We lost a brother, a friend, a teammate. This has however galvanized us ahead of game and we want to win it for him,” he added.

The Ugandan FA has already confirmed a minute of silence before kickoff at Namboole in remembrance of the fallen talented goalie.

Cranes coach Micho Sredojevic knows what is at stake and says that every one of the remaining three matches; two at home against Burkina Faso and Comoros and one away to Botswana will all be approached as if they were their last because whoever takes them will have done themselves a huge favour in the duo’s quest to qualify for Gabon.

“The game tomorrow (Tuesday) especially is like a cup final,” Micho said, “We shall squeeze from every player the remaining energy to see that we get the result we need.”

Yet the Serbian coach still has concerns about how his players will respond to the long trip from Ouagadougou. While Burkina Faso came by chartered flight a day before the Cranes arrival, the Ugandan team did not touch down at Entebbe Airport until the wee hours of Monday morning.

“It’s tough on us but we shall not be crybabies,” said Micho, his disgust at the situation hard to hide.

“I believe in the strong character of our players and work we are doing to be mentally strong, physically fit and technically-tactically effective.”

The Cranes had their final training session on Monday night under Namboole floodlights. All players left unscathed.

Micho is expected to make at least two changes from the team that started in Ouagadougou, with Khalid Aucho most likely to make way for Michael Azira, and Hamis Kiiza or Emmanuel Okwi coming in for Godfrey Walusimbi.

Scorer of the winner against Uganda on Saturday, Jonathan Pitroipa is again expected to be at the forefront for the Stallions, with Chelsea’s Bertrand Traore also raring to go.

  • Uganda probable XI:  Dennis Onyango, Denis Guma, Joseph Ochaya, Murushid Juuko, Isaac Isinde, Tony Mawejje, Michael Azira, Kizito Luwagga, Farouk Miya, Geoffrey Massa (C), Hamis Kiiza
  • Substitutes: Robert Ondongkara, Hassan Wasswa, Timothy Awany, Khalid Aucho, Moses Oloya, Godfrey Walusimbi, Emmanuel Okwi
  • Burkina Faso vs Uganda on March 26, 2016 Dauda Diakite, Steeve Farid Yago, Bakary Kone, Bakary Sare, Prejuce Nakouma, Abdou Razack Traore, Jonathan Pitroipa, Bertrand Traore, Issoufou Traore, Issoufou Dayo, Aristide Bance, Charles Kabore
  • Substitutes: Yacouba Coulibaly, Banou Diawara, Patrick Arnaud Malo, Alain Sibiri Traore, Adama Gura, Koffi Kouakou Herve, Jonathan Sunday Zongo


  • @upl
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