Kenya Simbas will be seeking to defend the Elgon Cup when they take Uganda Rugby Cranes in the return leg tie that will also double up as the teams’ first Africa 1A Cup (Gold Cup) match.
Kenya won the first leg 23-18 in Kampala thanks to flawless kicking by winger Darwin Mukidza and a resolute defence. Both teams have named their squads for the weekend match and here, Nation Sport looks at key battles, where the game will be won or lost.
- Brian Odongo v Moses Amusala
The two old workhorses will be tasked with ensuring their respective front rows pulverize their opposite numbers. Odongo, the Cranes captain, admitted that they were not at their best in Kampala. The Kenyan scrum put immense pressure on their counterparts milking a penalty and making their opposites backpedal. Odongo will be required to marshal Alex Mubiru and Asuman Mugerwa his fellow front rowers to withstand the Kenyan onslaught.
- Mathews Ocho v Oliver Mang’eni
Ocho missed the first game in Kampala and his absence was immensely felt as Mang’eni dominated the lineouts winning and stealing a couple of Ugandan throws. Ocho, a battle-hardened enforcer, has been recalled by Cranes’ head coach John Duncan with an eye on set pieces. He’ll have to help stabilise the Ugandan scrums from the boiler room while at the same time battling with Mang’eni, an accomplished jumper, for lineouts.
- Marvin Odongo v Joshua Chisanga
This is likely to be the battle of the afternoon. Odongo put in man-of-the-match performance in Kampala capping it with a beautiful breakaway try. Chisanga was introduced in the second half and his impact was immediately felt with big carries and hard tackles. The two aren’t strangers to each other having played high school rugby in Uganda but that will count for nothing as each will be out to prove that he’s the undisputed number eight in the region. Watch out for their close quarter fights.
- Ivan Magomu v Isaac Adimo
Magomu masterminded dangerous line plays by the Cranes in Kampala and he’ll be out to continue with his rich form. He completely outplayed his opposite number Biko Adema before meeting his match in Isaac Adimo later on in the second half. Magomu, a Cranes sevens player, has a devastating step and kicks beautifully both for territory and tactical.
One of his kicks caught the Kenyan defence off guard allowing winger James Odong an easy stroll into the try box. But in Adimo, Simbas have an experienced and wily flyhalf capable of changing the game if need be. His territorial kicks pinned back the Ugandan back three while his distribution was near perfect. Whoever will control and direct the game between these two, will influence the outcome of the game.
- James Odong v Darwin Mukidza
These two wingers aren’t strangers to each both at national and club level. Odong, a Ugandan import at Ngong Road’s Nondies, knows what Mukidza can do if given space. The KCB winger scored a hat-trick of tries last year in Kampala but Odong came out the better of the two in physical battles.
The Ugandan winger is a graceful player who goes about his duty effortless and has a way of making scoring tries a walk in the park.