Uganda rugby team’s preparations for the return leg of their Tri-nations Victoria Cup tie against Zimbabwe have been hampered by a spate of injuries to key players, while some of the regular players will not be travelling for the assignment due to other reasons.
The Uganda Cranes face an uphill task as they attempt to upstage a buoyant Sables team which whacked the highly-ranked Kenyans 42-24 at Harare Sports Club last weekend.
The Sables clash with the Ugandans at Hartsfield Ground in Bulawayo on Saturday, with the visitors missing the services of their inspirational skipper Mathias Ochwo while his deputy Timothy Mudoola is also not available.
The openside flanker, Ochwo, reportedly bruised his rib in the final game of the Africa Cup Group 1B tournament against Madagascar at Kyadondo, a fortnight ago.
Ochwo is however expected to rejoin the Ugandan team for the first leg of the Victoria Cup against Kenya next week in Nairobi.
“I have not been able to train because the movement of my upper body is still not there,” Ochwo said in an interview with a Ugandan publication, the Daily Monitor, recently.
Winger Jude Keremundu, who was recently named the most outstanding player in Ugandan domestic league, suffered a broken thumb in training last Friday and is now set to miss the remaining three internationals.
Reports from Uganda further indicated the Cranes’ team management was yet to decide on a new skipper as his deputy Mudoola would also be missing due to work commitments.
Centre Tony Luggya, flanker Robert Seguya and full-back Simon Wakabi are also not in the team due to work-related reasons while their regular scrumhalf Brian Kikawa was dropped.
Kikawa has been replaced by Faisal Gamma at the half-back position, who has been recalled after being dropped for the Africa Cup.
Backs Oscar Kalyango and Lawrence Wakabi are reportedly the two new faces who will start on the bench in Bulawayo.
Winger Allan Musoke and utility back Anthony Kinene also reportedly withdrew from the team citing busy schedules as well.
The Uganda Cranes jetted into the capital on Wednesday before proceeding to Bulawayo by road.
They will be hoping to overturn the 15-25 first leg deficit in a match in which Sables’ full-back Danny Robertson was named the man-of-the-match after having a fantastic match, fielding all the Cranes kicks and counter-attacking with ferocity.
Uganda’s probable starting VI courtesy of Daily Nation:
J Onen, J Kimono, M Wokorach, E Kingasia, D Etuket, B Kiiza, F Gamma, S Oluoch, A Olweny, S Ogwete, R Ogwal, R Mwisaka, D Mugambe, A Mubiru, R Adigasi
Reserves: S Mawanda, B Odong, T Kabonero, R Musajja, A Matsiko, O Kalyango, L Wakabi