BY SAMMY WEJINYA
Nigeria’s Rivers United will on Tuesday face Uganda’s KCCA as the battle in the group stage of the CAF Confederation Cup resumes. The Nigerian side is facing a very special KCCA squad! They have managed to accomplish what no other side before them (since the club was founded in 1963) could.
They managed to win the double; a feat completed on Thursday June 15 when they beat Paidha Black Angels 2-0 in the FUFA Cup final in Arua.
KCCA had earlier wrapped up the Ugandan league title this season making them the undisputed heavyweights of Ugandan football at this point in time.
The Kasasiro Boys (Garbage Collectors) are riding the crest of a wave and their stars believe they can walk on water following a string of impressive results in recent weeks.
So how can they be stopped at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium on Tuesday?
Mutebi is widely viewed as a father figure in Uganda. He’s never scared of giving youth a chance and six of his charges played for the Cranes, Uganda’s national team in last weekend’s 1-0 away victory over Cape Verde in 2019 Afcon qualifying.
The playing style of KCCA is direct with fluid passing and movement of individuals in the final third interchanged at pace.
As far as formation goes, Mutebi is no Dinosaur! The tactician is flexible but usually favours a 4-4-2 or 5-2-3-1 depending on the opposition.
It is extremely likely that he will slant towards the latter on Tuesday for very obvious reasons
The major weakness of KCCA is their defence. Goalkeeper Benjamin Ochan is an impressive goalkeeper but he is no Manuel Neuer!
The back four can also be suspect and have a penchant for losing concentration at key moments, largely due to the lack of years of key dramatis personae in this area of the pitch.
Paul Musamali, Timothy Awani, Isaac Muleme and Denis Okot Oola, the captain are sure bets to start in the KCCA defence on Tuesday.
Mutebi could throw in an extra defender as the priority will be NOT to lose to the Nigerian vice-champions on enemy territory.
This is KCCA’s biggest strength/potent weapon. Mutebi’s ‘middlemen’ NEVER stop running in any game.
They interchange positions delightfully, engage in dizzying spells of one-touch possession football and keep opponents guessing.
Tom Masiko (Jnr), the son of club legend, Tom (Snr) has grown in leaps and bounds in the last couple of years.
He worried the Rivers United defence to no end at Lugogo in the reverse fixture and is sure to start on the right side of the KCCA midfield on Tuesday.
Another midfielder that the United defenders will do well to keep an eye on is Muzamiru Mutyaba.
The ‘poor man’s Diego Armando Maradona’ is a midfielder of the highest quality and basically every attacking move of side passes through him.
Blessed with uncanny vision, low centre of gravity and nimble footwork, he was the liveliest creative KCCA player in the reverse fixture.
If Mutyaba plays well on Tuesday, Rivers United could well be in serious trouble! The Rivers United defenders are probably still having nightmares of him following that devastating display two weeks ago at Lugogo!
As far as strikers are concerned, the twin terrors are Geoffrey Serunkuma and Derrick Nsibambi.
Serunkuma has yet to open his account in the CAF Confederation Cup despite scoring four times in this season’s CAF Champions League.
He’s hungry….very hungry for goals and will want to ‘eat’ at YGS on Tuesday! Nsibambi needs no introduction to the Rivers United faithful.
He netted a brilliant double to put them to the sword at the Philip Omondi Stadium, Kampala on June 3.
The one man who could be the standout performer on Tuesday is a youngster; born on December 28, 1999 he is widely viewed as the future of Ugandan football.
Enter, Golden boy, Allan Okello!
Fresh faced, talented and fearless! Okello reminds one of Lionel Messi! You know what he’s going to do but you are absolutely powerless to stop him when he orchestrates it!
He was a thorn in the flesh of Rivers United’s defenders in the first leg with his direct running and intelligent runs off the ball.
So it appears pretty straightforward….cage Okello, Masiko and Mutyaba at YGS on Tuesday and (no prizes guessing), the supply line to Serunkuma and Nsimbabi is nullified!
If KCCA don’t score, chances are that Rivers United will win especially with the well-documented issues with the defence of the Ugandan double winners.
United have been poor offensively domestically but have looked a completely different proposition on the continent.
The Pride of Rivers have scored in all their previous continental matches at YGS against AS Real Bamako (Mali), Al Merreikh (Sudan), Rayon Sports (Rwanda) and FUS Rabat (Morocco).