CHAN 2020: Six key battles as Amavubi take on Cranes

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CHAN 2020: Six key battles as Amavubi take on Cranes
CHAN 2020: Six key battles as Amavubi take on Cranes

Africa-PressRwanda. It has been a long time since the Amavubi Stars played regional rivals Uganda Cranes.

The last encounter between the two was in 2017 in Kigali during the CHAN qualification campaign, where Rwanda won 2-0, but Amavubi was eliminated because the Cranes had won 3-0 in Kampala.

The rivalry is set to be renewed yet again, this time in the group stages of the same continental showpiece.

Times Sport

takes a look at the anticipated key battles that may define the game as action unfolds at Stade de la Reunification in Douala in Group C of the CHAN 2020 tournament on Monday, January 18.

Jacques Tuyisenge vs Halid Lwaliwa

Experienced striker Jacques Tuyisenge is expected to start upfront, leading Amavubi’s hunt for goals on Monday evening.

Arguably one of the most experienced in the team, the APR talisman is endowed with an eye for goal, a good aerial presence and physicality that will trouble Cranes defenders.

In this game, he is expected to be up against Cranes’ defender and captain Halid Lwaliwa, who is expected to start at the heart of Uganda’s defence.

Lwaliwa is a fairly experienced, although not to the level of Tuyisenge. And this is because he has not played club football outside of the Ugandan league so far.

He has however had a few outings with the Uganda Cranes team during African Nations Cup qualification campaigns, and managed some minutes off the bench, for example in the game against South Sudan in November where he also scored the all-important goal that won the match.

Concerning game attributes, Lwaliwa is good in the air, and he is also a good tackler.

His encounter with Tuyisenge may be a closely contested one, but hopefully, the experience edge that Tuyisenge has over him will create the difference that Rwanda needs to come out as the winning side.

Fitina Ombolenga vs Vianney Ssekajugo

The Amavubi will be counting on tested and proven right back Fitina Ombolenga to tame the diminutive albeit pacy left-footed Uganda Crane’s winger Vianney Sekajugo.

This is the second CHAN tournament that the APR man will be featuring, and he will be a key player in Vincent Mashami’s defence.

His good game reading defense-wise, coupled with his urge to always surge forward will be a key asset in the team’s quest for rhythm, as well as creating chances since he can always swing in a number of crosses from the left flank.

His direct opponent Vianney Sekajugo who features for Wakiso Giants in Uganda is a swift attacker, a fair dribbler, and also has an eye for goal.

His diminutive nature gives Omborenga some kind of advantage over him in the air, but still, there is need for caution in regard to what he can do with the ball on his feet.

Eric Nsabima (Zidane number) vs Saidi Kyeyune

AS Kigalis’ anchorman Eric Nsabimana is one of the gems in Rwanda’s local league.

He is excellent at game reading, calm and composed; yet he is a hard tackler and passer at the same time.

Expected to start in the middle of the park for Rwanda, Nsabimana will be faced with a task to cover domains of space in order to deny the Ugandan midfield the chance to play free-flowing football.

One of his direct opponents can be Saidi Kyeyune, who may be deployed as a creative midfielder for the Uganda Cranes. Currently plying his trade with Uganda Revenue Authority, Kyeyune has a good understanding of the game, and vision for that defence-splitting pass that can result into a goal.

Together with the other midfielders that will be deployed alongside him in the Amavubi team, Nsabimana will be required to tame the creative threat that Kyeyune and company may pose, but also spare time to do good attacking so that the team will have good proceedings by the end of the game.

Muhadjiri Hakizimana vs Aziz Kayondo

On paper, this looks like one of the easier battles for Rwanda in this game: the fairly experienced Muhadjiri Hakizimana up against Ugandan under-20 left back Aziz Kayondo.

Having played for a number of local clubs as well as having a stint in the United Arab Emirates, Hakizimana has lots of experience over Kayondo who is only emerging.

Expected to be deployed on the right wing, Hakizimana’s technicalities of flair, ball-holding skills, crossing as well as shooting in goal may be a real threat against the opponents.

This, however, does not mean that this is a battle that is already won. The youngster in Aziz Kayondo also has a lot to offer in the contest. He is known to be a player who loves to overlap into the opponent’s territory, and join in the attack. He is also not bad defensively.

Hakizimana should try to use his experience and technical abilities to create a difference on the right flank, create chances for the strikers or even try scoring goals himself.

Emery Bayisenge vs Brian Aheebwa

Emery Bayisenge is another experienced asset in the Amavubi team. He will be up against Ugandan strikers, one of whom is the on-form Brian Aheebwa who features for Kampala City Council Authority Football Club.

Aheebwa goes into the tournament after showcasing fine form for his club this season, where he has scored ten goals in just six games, including a hat-trick against AS Kigali in the CAF Confederations Cup.

This is one of the battles that may be banked on to be thrilling on Monday evening. Pacy, energetic and hungry for goals, Aheebwa is a scary goal poacher currently.

Rwanda will be counting on the experience of Bayisenge to deal with such a threat. Having played on such a stage before, the AS Kigali central defender is expected to have good levels of confidence in the game.

His good game reading and composure should be complimented with willingness to run relentlessly, as well as organizing his defence well in order to deal with Aheebwa and other Ugandan attackers.

Vincent Mashami vs Johnny McKinstry

Northern Irishman Johnathan McKinstry will be at the helm of the Uganda Cranes as they take on Amavubi Stars.

Having been coach of the Amavubi until 2016 when he was fired, McKinstry is expected to have some good knowledge of how Amavubi plays.

In fact, some of the players in the current Amavubi squad were part of his team that reached CHAN quarter-finals in 2016.

In addition to this, Vincent Mashami who is currently the head coach of the Amavubi was an assistant coach to McKinstry during part of his tenure as Rwanda’s head coach.

It is thought that the two tacticians have knowledge of each other’s style of play, and this will be one of the interesting bits of the game.

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