A build-up: OKIA THROWN IN THE THICK OF BUSINESS – AFRICA GOLD CUP- By: @magero_moses 

In 2014 against Kenya in the 1st leg of the Elgon Cup then, Okia a juvenile at the time who was in his Senior 6 vacation was handed the mantle to start at Full back for the Rugby Cranes. 
The flick feet athlete turned up and produced a game of his life and won the Man Of The Match gong in the tie. He had stamped his name on the hearts of the Rugby faithful. 
Since then the full back cum winger had little to do with the 15s National team. He turned focus to 7s Rugby and was part of the Uganda 7s side that won the Africa Rugby 7s tournament held in Kenya in 2016. 
At the onset of this year’s Rugby Africa Gold Cup tournament, only a handful if any would put their money on Okia running out in the National colours, but the injury bug looming in the Cranes camp has sparked off the return of “MAASO* as many of his friends like to call him.
The player was named on the bench against Tunisia last weekend after Justin Kimono got injured in the wake of the game, and on introduction to the game he touched down winning a spot further more in the hearts of the coaches in his test debut.
Just days after his brilliant cameo against Tunisia, Okia will start against Namibia this Saturday in his what is going to be his first full test debut. 
It remains to be seen whether the winger can replicate the promise he showed in his junior years and also against Tunisia last weekend.

SEGUYA KEEPS FAITH IN HIS u19 CHAMPIONS OF 2014 By: @magero_moses


Ivan Magomu and Aron Ofoirwoth are some of the players that played and won u19 tier 1B in 2014. Photo credit Rugby 256

At the onset of the 2017 Rugby Afrique Gold Cup tournament, many Rugby faithfuls didn’t see the young lads have a go in the games, but Coaches Seguya and Duncan had other plans.
Seguya who is seen by most of the young lads in the squad as a mentor has lived by his promise of bleeding experience and young blood. 
Most of the young lads that have had a run out in the National colours in this year’s Rugby Afrique Gold Cup tournament are those that where Champions in the U19 Rugby Afrique tournament that Uganda hosted and won beating Madagascar in the final thus earning promotion from tier 1B to tier 1A.


Byron Oketayot (standing) carries Pius Ogena after he scored against Tunisia. Photo Credit RUGBY 256

Ivan Magom (Fly half), Mike Otto (Lock), Byron Oketayot (Lock), Aaron Ofoirwoth(Scrum half), Collin Kimbowa (Prop), Pius Ogena(Center/Lock), Solomon Okia(Wing/Fullback) are the lads in the current set up of the senior Rugby Cranes side that were part of the winning team in the U19 Rugby Afrique tournament in 2014 that Seguya coached
These have all earned their spots on the team on merit and when asked about how they feel, they all pledge allegiance to Coach Seguya for believing in them from back then when they played at U 19 level up to now when they can represent the Nation at senior level and they promise not to let him and the country at large down.

Cranes run riot on defenseless Tunisians

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Sometime last week, I spoke of the Rugby Cranes not taking for granted the challenge that was Tunisia, for sure the boys went into this game knowing what they wanted and how to get it. Yes, it might not have lived to the billing of a glossy three digit score like that our neighbours exhibited, which I’m sure everyone would have loved to see but who cares really, we got the bonus point and packed a mean punch with a Herculean 78 points to our name. Very good score if you ask me.

There is no greater satisfaction in sports management than the experiments of a coach turning into master strokes. Saturday was testament to this and a win – win as well, much needed rest for the likes of Scott Oluoch and Kirabo Ivan but the performance of the replacements showed they weren’t missed one bit.

This “mukolo” (read – occasion) was colossal in every sense of the word and not even the attempted downpour could halt the masses from showing face, not as many as the sight from Elgon cup but numerous enough to create the feeling of an impregnable fortress. It was also a commemoration for the efforts of long serving men of the sport : Alex Mubiru Musava and Mathias Matayo Ochwo who were to play their 50th and 51st caps respectively. The two warriors came onto the pitch first to a standing ovation and thunderous hand shakes from the rugby faithful settling in at the Legends Rugby grounds. The national team then followed afterwards to an even bigger roar, appetites were whet with hunger for a big kill and Tunisia were the unfortunate prey.

From the get go, the Cranes intended to express themselves, confident of the style they wanted to play, one that Ugandan fans have fallen in love with – EXPANSIVE RUGBY. The boys had the foot on the gas from the beginning and it was clear as day that this would be a long game for the traveling group, a score seeming well overdue by the 2nd minute.

Presenting a minute by minute report of the Cranes exploits would be doing a grave injustice to the occurrences of the day as mere words cannot begin to justify their feat. I would strongly advise those that missed the game to stop whatever they are doing and check out the highlights on the Akatimba social media page or relieve the glory by watching the full game on YouTube courtesy of Kwese.

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Nonetheless, our focus will be on a summarized look at the contribution of our heroes.

FORWARDS

The front row as usual was a spectacle, the experience of the front three is undoubtedly looking to be one of Uganda’s greatest assets, giving Aaron Ofoirwoth a good platform to start the structure going. These big boys even had some time to show a side of theirs not normally caught on camera or sought by eyes, Big man Brian Odongo defying the laws of size to be mobile enough to carry ball whenever need be, Asuman Mugerwa showing good support lines and assisting winger James Odong with an All black-esque offload, not forgetting half centurion Alex Musava Mubiru dashing from the opposition 22 meter line to cap off this memorable day with a try of his own.

The lock forwards were immense in every aspect of the game, the gel of Matayo’s knowhow and wit with the youth and industry of Charles Uhuru terrorised not only their opposite numbers but also the backs with a number of mismatches.

As fairy tales normally go, 51 cap Ochwo also marked the day with a long run to score under the posts. As for Charles Uhuru, words can’t begin to describe the type of rugby he has put on display this campaign, scoring in every gold cup game so far. The young man that plies his trade for the Toyota Buffaloes bossed the line out, carried well, supported not only his fellow forwards but the backs as well. It was a thing of beauty to witness the lanky second row always being the first man giving options at every line break on top of which he bagged a try too and is among Uganda’s top try scorers this campaign.

The back row came out with a new look but their impact didn’t falter, blindside Byron Oketayot was immense – he literally tackled everything in his path and got up to tackle some more for his teammates, the Rhinos man was surely having a defensive purple patch.

At open side, Brian Asaba continued to show why he has retained the #7 shirt despite many potential candidates, the Namilyango graduate showed just how a number seven should play, cunning enough to slow down Tunisian break downs forcing the turnovers, smart enough to read the game and intercept faulty opposition line outs but still had enough in his tank to show how brutal he can be in ball carrying and tackling.

Ronald Musajja at eighth man, had a fair game, doing the basics but not really giving the coaches much to ponder about on selection, he didn’t stamp himself on this one. Ronald looked quite lost at eight and maybe blindside suits him better.

THE BACKS

The tragic injury that ruled out winger Justin Kimono last Wednesday saw a reshuffle to a more normally accustomed to back line, Phillip Wokorach’s start at #10 will have to wait a little longer as he returned to full back. Ivan Magomu came back to the starting 15 from the bench.

There is always talk of experience and how players aren’t ready yet for the big stage but Aaron Ofoirwoth’s first start at scrum half was near perfect, His distribution was quick and accurate, putting the forwards in gaps and recycling fast enough to play the back line, a strategy that wore out the bigger Tunisians. It could have been a case of playing in a near one sided encounter but either way he earns our respect for the weekend and Soggy can rest assured that he has depth in the number 9 position.

Ivan Magomu has been sharp and decisive in the Gold cup thus far but Saturday so him go up a whole new level, his cross kicks were precise and contestable putting the Tunisian back three under heaps of pressure, his coordination with Aaron was sublime in distributing and organizing the motions and effecting expansive champagne rugby, his decision making on when to pass and break the line was the stuff of the Legendary Dan Carter VS the British and Irish Lions in 2005, running rugby at its best, oh and he scored too – hats off to him. Although we are still wondering whether it was the new dreadlocks that inspired this kind of fly half extravaganza.

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The Centres were very solid in defence, nothing got through them big or small. Ogena marshalled the defensive duties expertly and Michael used his athletic size to suck in as many defenders as he could, only to offload to oncoming support to score with ease. The centres each bagged a try to cap off a dominant display and it will be very hard to usurp this duo that seems to have cemented these positions.

The back three put on a show of “romantic rugby”. Running hard in the gaps, dancing through parades of opposition defenders and controlling territory with dexterity. James Odong deserves a lot of credit for his work, the man looked for opportunities everywhere, coming to give options for the back in, playing as second receiver and being available at the wing for the kick and pass as well. it is no surprise that he was at the end of a magnificent highlight coming from a beautiful offload pass by Asuman Mugerwa that he walked to the try area.

Philip “golden boy” Wokorach has been criticized for slacking in defence but had another master class in attack. It seemed like he was smeared with grease as the opposition could barely hold on when he sliced through their defensive line on numerous occasions. He took the man of the match accolade with a sensational hat trick of tries as well as two assists, the Stat meter for offloads and line breaks broke due to the multiple times he executed at will.

Powerful winger Lawrence Ssebuliba had a good game, it is a shame that he didn’t get a try under his name but he did play his part. He probably will have to pick a leaf from fellow winger James on how to look for the work else where but the wing.

I would like to applaud Coaches Duncan and Sseguya on a job well done getting the boys to embrace a kind of rugby that encourages the selflessness of offloads and support play no matter the cost : every Ugandan that broke the line had at least two supporting players. 👍 Thumbs up for the show.

Namibia looms around the corner and everything rides on this one to give us a more tangible feel of conquering Africa with the Rugby World Cup 2019 qualification as a cherry on the top for our troubles. Surely, the Namibians wont be as toothless as our recently claimed scalp scalp and we shall need every ounce of energy and organizational skill to do ourselves the biggest of favors – keep destiny in our hands.

#RugbyCranes #NaMutima

 

RUGBY CRANES DARING TO DREAM By @magero_moses


Prior the onset of the international rugby season this year, many bookmakers quickly wrote off the chances of the Rugby Cranes efforts in this year’s Rugby Afrique cup / Gold cup but the turnover of events in the recent fixtures has breathed hope in the Cranes’ contest for supremacy on the continent.
The lads started off with a painful 18-23 near loss against the neighbors Kenya at home in Kampala, that quickly set off some fans rubbishing their efforts in achieving success this year. 
Complacency in the 2nd half and a few mistakes is clearly what let down by the lads in the black yellow red shirt. But whatever coaches Robert “Soggy” Seguya and partner John Duncan told the lads in the aftermath of that fixture came to pay off.
In the 2nd leg of the the Elgon Cup which doubled as the Gold Cup in Nairobi it was a different unfolding of events. The boys run riot from onset to the disbelief of the Kenyans. The Kenyans chased the game for the biggest part of the game and where mesmerized by Uganda’s display in what was an astonishing game, where barely a foot was set wrong. 33 all was the final score a very unfamiliar scoreline Uganda ever registers in Kenya. Uganda might have lost the Elgon cup 51-56 but left Nairobi with 2 points in the bag in the Gold Cup.
Focus was then channelled to Dakar in Senegal, West Africa. Uganda showed character once again from the onset in a game where they seemed bullied out of the tie by the Senegalese unsportsmanlike acts, but the lads stuck to the plan and executed well. Rugby Cranes recorded a 17-16 crucial away win with tries from Charles Uhuru and James Odongo. Phillip Wokorach delivered the extras off his boot in a game that saw seniorh player Mathias Ochwo make half a centurion of games for the Rugby Cranes a fit the youngsters in the side will look at emulating


The win in Dakar ensued Uganda’s improvement on the road with 6 points in two away games and with the next Gold Cup games at home, this seems Uganda’s to loose.
Credit to coach Robert “Soggy” Seguya and John Duncan whose belief in the boys is to push them places. The blend of the young, agile lads and the senior players is surely be paying off.

Uganda’s GOLD CUP fixtures.

Uganda Vs Tunisia – 15th July
Uganda Vs Namibia – 22nd July.
Uganda Vs Zimbabwe – August 5th.
Note: All Uganda’s remaining fixtures will be be in played at home.

RUGBY CRANES NEED TO MAINTAIN HUMILITY DESPITE APPARENT “STROLL IN THE PARK” THIS WEEKEND

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As the Rugby cranes made the most of their weekend off from the Gold cup, statements were being made across the continent from Uganda’s fearsome rivals. Our focus however lies on our next opponents, Tunisia, that were annihilated by a pumped up Kenyan outfit.

The North Africans landed in Kampala having succumbed to a woeful defeat to neighbours Kenya ending up on the wrong side of a 100 – 10 scoreline. The Kenyans surely had a field day against Tunisia and at some point, it seemed as easy as a captain’s run session for the Simbas.

Listening to a number of fans and players after the news had spread about the result, the reactions seemed to be that of ” a sure sure win ” . Naturally, after watching such a one sided show and having the Cranes best interests at heart, one would rush to conclude that this Saturdays match up will have a similar if not the same taste to it.

On assessing the possible pointers to the clash this weekend, I have come to conclude that much as this is surely the easiest game of the fast approaching trio of do or die fixtures, it should be accorded the same if not graver caution than those against Zimbabwe and Namibia.

WHY ?….. One might ask. The positioning of this game can make or break our campaign and i begin my case by pointing out that it would be a colossal morale drain to come from Saturday with less than a win (God forbid ) which would leave us in a conundrum similar to that our brothers of the soccer franchise commonly face and we all know how that tends to end.

On the other hand, a win, a big one at that will boost the belief among the boys in camp, that a once dreamt about goal will be in close touching distance. A big result this weekend will have Zimbabwe and Namibia thinking twice on how to approach and disrupt this Ugandan Juggernaut as well, giving us the psychological upper hand.

Back to Tunisia, despite our clear advantage, it is important for the players to remain humble, cautious but lethal because as you read this, the Tunisians are hurting following such a humiliating loss and we all know the adage of the wounded cat in a corner. The rumour mill flying around also suggests that there are some internal misunderstandings in their camp possibly due to failure to fulfil financial promises on top of which the apparent core of the team that plies their trade in France are not with the squad and could be joining them this week, honestly we shouldn’t bat an eye lid to such and it should be treated like the commonly sang about “mboozi zoku malwa..” because even if they were to field Goliath, we know the result we intend to achieve.

Sport also likes to allude to history and statistics which in this case aren’t in our favor as we have lost our previous two match ups against the visitors. Another sign to warn the boys not to let the foot off the gas till the fat lady sings or at least till the referee blows the final whistle.

This isn’t the crying of a pessimistic country man but the caution of a deeply passionate and realistic fan. We embark into waters that require us to win all our remaining fixtures, commencing with the Tunisians. In a year when the Gold cup doubles as a shot at the Rugby World cup in 2019, we can’t afford any more slip ups if we intend to avoid maths and keep fate within our control.

Do the boys have the verve and pizzazz for the dance that lies ahead? Let’s wait and see .

For God and Our Rugby.💪💪🏉🏉

*KCCA FC ENROUTE FAIRY TALE IN CONTINENTAL FOOTBALL*By @magero_moses 

To dream is one thing but to do is the other, KCCA FC dreamt and did. 

The Kasasiro boys have written their story on the continent and now are enroute a fairy take that will linger on for years to come.
The lads where painfully ejected from the CAF Champions league by defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns but there was another avenue for the team to showcase it’s prowess in the CAF Confederations cup.
The Kasasiro boys as their faithful call them, lost their opening game against FUS RABAT 3-0 in Morocco but bounced back with two consecutive home wins, 2-1 against Club AFRICAIN of Tunisia and 2-1 against Rivers of Nigeria to complete 1st round of games at 6 points
2nd round of games saw the team loose 2-1 away against Rivers and then bounced back against FUS RABAT at home with a convincingly 3-1 win against the Tunisian side leaving them wondering what had hit them. The win pushed back the lads to 9 points with a 100 % home record.


KCCA FC now has the mantle to progress to the quarter finals of the CAF Confederations cup and only need a point without effort to know what will come out of the game between Rivers and Fus RABAT.
A team that has been built on belief and free flowing beautiful football that manager Mutebi loves calling “OUR WAY”, is just within be to touching distance of the quarter finals of the competition.
Manager Mike Mutebi vowed to play the KCCA FC way when his charges take on Tunisian side Club AFRICAIN on 7th July. He added with an attacking set of Jackson Nunda, Sadam Juma, Muzamir Mutyaba, Allan Okello and Julius Poloto together with talismen Derrick Nsibambi and Geoffrey Serunkuuma, expect a brilliant game.


This is a game predicted by many to be the turning point of the KCCA FC players, the management, Uganda’s football among many others.

*CAF CONFEDERATIONS CUP*

CLUB AFRICAIN Vs KCCA FC – Friday 7th July.

RUGBY PREVIEW

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This past Saturday, the Rugby cranes held on to earn a hard fought victory from Dakar and with it a top of the table spot in the Gold cup pending results from this coming weekend’s matches.

Our observations from Dakar ;

It is clear the Rugby cranes don’t have white line fever. They know how to find and score tries, a lot of credit should go to the coaches for the combinations set up that seem to be ticking.
Brian Odongo and his pack have displayed enormous industry in their play, arguably the reason for Uganda’s success is due to their efforts often getting Uganda beyond the gain line and setting up Magomu and his backs in areas of good territory. The forwards have been the stand out in this Rugby Cranes force.

This however poses a challenge to the back line, Magomu and his boys looked off colour against Senegal, slower than usual. Could it be attributed to the conditions……? Only the players can respond to that but nonetheless we have to keep in mind that the forwards are the engine and the backs are the wheels, they surely have to be at par to ensure proper functionality.

Much as the cranes have shown dexterity in scoring tries and enterprise in their style of play, challenges still loom large; Game management is still an obstacle for our progress, the team seems to be conceding immediately having scored at the other end. There is a need to learn how to win smart, how to consolidate leads and see off games.

Whatever they choose to do, it has to sink in as quickly as possible, more organized opponents in Tunisia, Namibia and Zimbabwe approach. Being at home is an advantage however it isn’t going to be a hand out, we need to stay cautious, calculative and focused on the task at hand.
We would urge our beloved team to take note ;

Continuity with the current game plan, the Cranes have exhibited an exciting brand of rugby that has impressed, shocked and captured many admirers, not forgetting it has seen us leap to 38th in the IRB rankings. More of the same with small tweaks here and there and surely the class of 2017 will emulate their predecessors of 2007.

Emphasis on territory and how we react to said territory, the chase is as good as the kick, Rugby 101.

 

How the team reacts having put points on board is essential, the last two games have shown a trend of throwing away leads that are quite healthy, the players need to be mentored on calmness and how to control these situations, as much as territory is key, possession is paramount; the opposition can’t score without the ball, territory can get us in good positions from which we can effect successive waves of possession thus frustrating the opposition into panic mode leading to penalties and rash decisions that will open up gaps for more scoring chances.

Discipline, the penalty count has to continue to drop. The boys should be taught when it is and when it isn’t necessary to engage in the breakdown. Decision making is the thin line that separates discipline from indiscipline. Players need to know when they can challenge and when they should be patient, absorb pressure and await the right opportunity. Not forgetting the need to avoid cynical acts that can cost the team.

Defence ; at times the defensive pattern looked to be in shambles. Special mention goes out to the 50 cap warrior, Mathias Ochwo, who showed some ruthless defending but as a defensive unit there seemed to be an issue, emphasis should be put on moulding the defence as a Chain system. Failure to do so only tires players who make countless tackles without the required organization necessary.
RUGBY CRANES , WE GO!!!