Jacob Icia in Kampala
Hosts Uganda could be the second team after Kenya to seal a semi final spot in the ongoing CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup, with at least a draw against Eritrea on Wednesday evening at the KCCA Lugogo Stadium, Kampala – Uganda.
The Jonathan McKinstry coached Cranes head into the game top of Group A with six points from two matches, but the tactacian is taking no chances against a side that stopped Burundi in their opener.
“The game against Eritrea will be very interesting. Eritrea could have been lowly rated but you saw with their performance against Burundi that football is changing very quickly. They played well showing a lot of energy and could have scored more than one,” the Irish observed.
McKinstry has hinted at ringing changes in his team to avoid burning out players, knowing they have played two matches in four days while Eritrea has played one.
“It is about examining how well our players have recovered because playing two games in a few days takes a toll on the body. No team in this tournament can play six matches with the same fisrt 11, so the boys who are going to play are ready for the match,” added McKinstry.
Eritrea, who are making a comeback to the oldest football competition in the region after seven years in the cold, could be serious contestants for the semis if they reap at least a draw from Uganda.
Having beaten Burundi 1-0, a positive result against Uganda could mean essier job for them against Somalia and Djibouti in their last two Group A matches, which has five teams.
Efrem Haile, the Eritrea coach, is hopeful that his boys are super motivated ahead of the Cranes by their win over Burundi.
“It was such a huge joy for us to beat Burundi. It gives some more believe that we can really challenge for the semi finals,” noted Haile.
Currently, Uganda leads the group with six points, followed by Eritrea who have three while both Somalia and Djibouti have one each.
Only Burundi has no point in the group, after losing 2-1 and 1-0 to Uganda and Eritrea respectively.
In the first game on the day set for 1:30pm, Djibouti will take on neighbours Somalia with either targeting maximum points to keep hopes of extended stay in the tournament.