- Soccer. From the coach, players and fans, KCCA believe they can continue their fine home run and keep their quarterfinal dream well alive.
A tale is told of some instructions to KCCA players before they walked onto that pitch in Tunisia to face local giants Esperance last week.
“Go play your best but when you are attacked too much, all retreat and defend in numbers,” the technical bench is said to have chorused.
KCCA, like most of us, expected Esperance to come at them from the first whistle. When the hosts showed no hurry, manager Mike Mutebi’s boys, most of whom attack-minded, went at them like hungry adolescents, debutant Gift Ali crafting Jackson Nunda’s goal and host adding an own strike for KCCA to take a surprise 2-0 lead inside 24 minutes.
“No one expected that scoreline at that time,” admitted KCCA new signing from SC Villa, Bernard Muwanga.
“Maybe because we surprised ourselves and got lost in the excitement and never recovered.”
In the end, Esperance were 3-2 winners. “Now we know better,” assured Muwanga, who is favourite to line up again in that back three with skipper Timothy Awany and Mustafa Kizza.
While Muwanga and company will be looking to keeping decency at the back, Ali - an arrival from Proline - will be looking to continue his strong start at the biggest stage of his club career.
“The feeling in Tunisia was great,” said Ali, “First time on the continent, an assist and good team performance.
“I hope this is my moment to get my game up. The game in Tunisia showed me that anything is possible.
“No small or big club. On the pitch we are all equal. Teams in the group are winning their home games and that’s the mentality we go into Saturday’s (today) game in.”
KCCA will move to six points with victory, which would be their ninth in 10 at home.
Esperance currently top Group A on seven points, with Egyptian giants Al Ahly, who face Botswana’s Township Rollers, on four. The top two qualify for the quarterfinals.
Mutebi showed his boldness by deploying mainly forward thinking players in his five-man midfield of a 3-5-3. The principled tutor is unlikely to change his way.
“We shall give Esperance the respect they deserve but we are not afraid of them. And yes, we shall continue playing our way,” insisted Mutebi.
The only starting change might come in attack, with Patrick Kaddu starting in place of Muhammad Shaban, who - by press time - was rumoured to be completing a move to an undisclosed foreign club.
Esperance showed their variety in Tunis, but KCCA will not need reminding that first leg scorers Anice Badri, Saad Bguir and Belel Magri will need special watch.
KCCA possible XI:
Charles Lukwago (GK), Kizza, Hassan Musana, Bernard Muwanga, Timothy Awany (C), Sadam Juma, Isaac Kirabira, Muzamiru Mutyaba, Allan Okello, Julius Poloto, Patrick Kaddu
Substitutes: Tom Ikara (GK), Filbert Obenchan, Gift Ali, Lawrence Bukenya, Steven Sserwadda.
Esperance 3-2 KCCA
Al Ahly 3-0 Township Rollers
KCCA vs. Esperance,
Township Rollers vs. Al Ahly