The Rugby Cranes need to carry as much belief as they head into the second leg of this year’s Elgon Cup when they host cross border rivals, Kenya Simbas.
The game will be played at the Kyadondo Rugby Club on Saturday, July 13.
The Rugby Cranes do hold the advantage after bagging their first win in six years in Kisumu, holding onto a first half 11-00 lead to win 16-13 by the final whistle.
Judging by history, the Cranes cannot take everything for granted as their opponents Kenya have been able to overturn a first leg deficit on three previous occasions – 2007, 2008 and 2013.
The only time Uganda have managed to hold onto a first leg advantage was in 2012 which coincided with the last time they won the tournament.
Uganda head coach Robert Seguya made just four changes to the team that played in the first leg. Kenya based Rugby 7s star Phillip Wokorach returns to the Cranes XV fold and will add athleticism and technic to the team.
Former rugby Cranes skipper Micheal Wokorach also returns in place of Jordan Bongomin and is expected to start as the outside centre.
Toyota Buffaloes playmaker Robert Masendi makes way for Ivan Magomu who is expected to fill in as a flyhalf with Aaron Ofoyrwoth expected to move back to his natural position as a scrumhalf. Mike Otto has come in for Byron Oketayot
Eight changes were made to the Simbas squad that played in Kisumu.
The Simbas go for experience through the inclusions of Andrew Amonde who will provide more strength to their backrow; Jacob Ojee will make his first appearance for the Simbas since the HSBC Sevens. Melvin Thairu andFidel Oloo will be tasked with carrying the ball forward.
In the ladies’ camp, head coach Edgar Lamerigar made several changes to the team which sees Juliet Nandawula handed a starting place at the right wing and Evelyn Weku coming in as prop. Christine Nakayiza is expected to start from the bench.
There no place for Fortunate Irankunda despite a brilliant performance in the second half against Kenya. But Hellen Gizamba, Mary Ayot and captain Winnie Atyang all named in the starting XV.
Charlotte Mudoola has been moved to scrumhalf; Claire Aneno has been handed the number 10 jersey while Samiya Ayikoru will start at fullback.
On the other hand, Kenyan Lionesses have named five debutants for the return leg with Winfred Maina, Victoria Gichure, Anne Njeri, Winnie Owino and Diana Awino in line to make their debuts for the Lionesses as head Coach Felix Oloo using the game to guage his options ahead of the Rugby World Cup qualifiers in August.
The Lady Cranes do have a mountain to climb however as they have to overturn a 44-13 deficit if they are to prevail in this year’s edition.
Men Rugby Cranes Squad: Santos Ssenteza, Saul Kivumbi, Asuman Mugerwa (C), Collins Kimbowa, Ronald Kanyanya, Joseph Kagimu, Charles Uhuru, Robert Aziku, Simon Olet, Desire Ayera, Brian Asaba (VC), Eliphaz Emong, Michael Otto, Aaron Ofoyrwoth, Paul Epilo, Ivan Magomu, Pius Ogena, Ian Munyani, Michael Okorach, Paul Masendi, Daudi Semwami, Adrian Kasito, Philip Wokorach,
Lady Rugby Cranes Squad: Faith Namugga, Yvonne Najjuma, Evelyn Weku, Charity Atimango, Winnie Atyang (C), Helen Gizamba, Mary Ayot, Beatrice Atim, Charlotte Mudoola, Clare Aneno, Christine Akello, Peace Lekuru, Asha Nakityo, Julie Nandawula, Samiya Ayikoru, Peace Mirembe, Warry Senfuka, Irene Nzige, Christine Nakayiza, Teddy Iwutung, Lydia Namabiro, Esther Tino, John Andika