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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

Mainland eye last eight slot

28th November 2012
Mainland players train at Makerere ground yesterday ahead of today’s Challenge Cup crucial tie against Burundi at Univercity Nelson Mandela Stadium in Kampala. (Photo: Correspondent Michael Mukunza)

Three times Chalenge Cup winners Kilimanjaro Stars are on their way to the quarterfinal stages should they post a victory over Burundi in Group B match to be played at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Kampala today.

Both team kicked off the tournament at a cracking pace after posting remarkable wins in their opening matches played on Sunday.

While Kilimanjaro Stars breezed past pre-tournament favourites Sudan by two clear goals, Burundi made a mockery when they handed a five-goal demolition to hapless Somalia.

The Mainland-Burundi clash is expected to be a thriller as each team will be making projections to win a quarterfinal berth at the end of the regulation time.

Mainland has not been troubled by Burundi in Challenge Cup encounters but not all days are Fridays.

Danish coach Kim Poulsen has been impressed by the performance of his boys since the hard won victory over Sudan, the only team from the CECAFA region that represented the region in the African Nations Cup co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea at the beginning of the year.

A draw for the teams would also be useful as they would cruise into the last eight basing on the tournament’s poor format that lifts two other third best-placed teams out of the three groups.

However, each team will be looking forward to collect all the three allotted points and rest with a peace of mind to weigh their quarterfinal progression.

The two teams have been grouped in the same pool three times since the 2009 championship hosted by Kenya.

Mainland have been unbeaten by Burundi, but today’s match is different altogether.

Mainland banks heavily on striking partnership between Mrisho Ngasa and Mwinyi Kazimoto and John Bocco’s predatory skills upfront.

Stars defence is also superb with skipper Juma Kaseja marshalling his rearguards with Erasto Nyoni, Amir Maftah, Kelvin Yondani and all-rounder Shomari Kapombe.

Burundi will have to bank on their striking force lead by Suleiman Ndikumana and Didier Kavumbagu should their coach decide to field them in the starting line-up.

The day will be concluded by a match of the losers as Sudan face Somalia in a match that any loser will be going closer to the tournament’s exit gate.

It remains to be seen whether Somalia or Sudan will be making early reservations to board a return flight at the end of the day.

Twelve countries are competing in the lucrative tournament whose purse is $30,000 and two thirds of the sum will be awarded to the losing finalists.

The East African Breweries Ltd has been behind the sponsorship package for the third year running with Mainland Tanzania enjoying a two-edition hosting status.

The Mainland coach Kim Poulsen will be emulating his predecessor Jan whose heroics brought back the Challenge cup title for the third time in 2010, breaking a 16-year chaotic hoodoo in Dar es Salaam.

However, the title redemption feat can only be endured bearing in mind that hosts Uganda have won a record breaking 12-times and are comfortable at home.




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