KAMPALA. Cranes striker Emmanuel Okwi has already warned against taking Uganda’s 2018 World Cup qualifier against Ghana at Namboole as a foregone conclusion.
“You know it’s not impossible in football for us to win and then Ghana or Congo stop Egypt,” said Okwi after Uganda returned Group E leadership to Egypt following a 1-0 defeat in Alexandria on Tuesday night.
“But, many think the Ghana game (on October 7) is easy. It’s not, we have to be aware of that.”
Yes, Egypt at nine points and Uganda at seven with two matches left sounds like a two-horse race.
But Ghana winning 5-1 in Brazzaville to move to five points reawakens the Black Stars faint hopes and fighting spirit to hang on, thus making their trip to Kampala even more important.
Encouraging home record
Uganda’s home record against Ghana is an impressive two wins and a draw in Nations and World Cup qualification, with the only defeat coming in Independence Cup in 1962.
The Black Stars most recent visit was in 2014, then defender Savio Kabugo’s lone strike settling the contest. But like Okwi cautioned, next month’s encounter is hardly a done deal. For Egypt, their home record against Congo, whom they beat 2-1 in the first leg to get advantage over Uganda, is a straight forward three in three wins.
Coach Hector Cuper’s men are expected to again put the Red Devils to the sword, especially now that the Congolese’s World Cup journey is finished.
Should both Uganda and Egypt manage three points against Ghana and Congo respectively, the road for the Black Stars will also be done.
Yet Ghana, who could still force themselves into the equation with victory in Kampala and Egypt faltering at home against Congo, will want to still get out on a high when they meet the Pharoahs on November 6.
Uganda would then look at Egypt’s last visit to Ghana, when the Pharaohs swallowed six in a 2014 World Cup qualifier, and hope something similar is repeated while the Cranes also do their job in Congo.
Egypt have won only once – a friendly – in Ghana, losing thrice and drawing twice. Yet Egypt will also be hoping to improve their record in Ghana while praying Uganda fall in Brazzaville.
The Pharaohs will be encouraged by Uganda’s visits to Congo. The Cranes have lost on all three trips to the Red Devils, the last – a 3-1 humbling – coming in the 2013 Nations Cup qualifier.
“There is big job to do considering that Ghana won,” admitted Cranes skipper and goalkeeper Denis Onyango, “We must work hard to get points off Ghana then see what happens thereafter. The next two games are finals.”
In short, Egypt have it all in their destiny for as long as they win their remaining two games.
Yet the beautiful game has also time and again proved to be one enigma.
Ug at home vs GH
10 Oct 1962:
Ug 1-4 GH, IF
07 Sep 2002:
Ug 1-0 GH, CHAN qualifier
03 Jul 2004:
Ug 1-1 GH, WC qualifier
15 Nov 2014:
Ug 1-0 GH, CHAN qualifier
EG at home vs CGO
05 Jan 1971: EG 3-1 CGO, IF
11 Mar 1974:
EG 4-0 CGO, CHAN finals
22 Apr 1983: EG 2-0 CGO, CHAN qualifier
GH at home vs EG
06 Jul 1960:
GH 2-2 EG, IF
29 Dec 1993:
GH 0-0 EG, IF
31 Dec 1993:
GH 2-1 EG, IF
26 May 1996:
GH 0-2 EG, IF
10 Jan 2013:
GH 3-0 EG, IF
15 Oct 2013:
GH 6-1 EG, WC qualifier
CGO at home vs Ug
21 Jul 1965: CGO 2-1 Ug, All African Games
12 Nov 1965:
CGO 2-1 Ug, IF
29 Feb 2012:
CGO 3-1 Ug, CHAN qualifier
*CGO denotes Congo
*UG denotes Uganda
*EG denotes Egypt
*IF denotes Friendly