Setbacks for glory-seeking Ugandan taxmen
A suspension and injuries could thwart Ugandans Revenue Authority on Saturday when they seek a shock CAF Confederation Cup last-32 triumph over South Africans Orlando Pirates.
The Kampala tax collectors lost the first leg 2-1 in Soweto last month, but a spectacular stoppage-time own-goal from South African Happy Jele gifted the east Africans an unexpected lifeline.
However, Revenue coach Alex Isabirye must do without banned striker Robert Ssentongo, scorer of three goals in the preliminaryround victory over Malagasy side Saint Michel.
And defender Dan Othieno (knee), midfielder Oscar Agaba (hamstring) and strikers Frank Kalanda (malaria) and Peter Lwasa (ankle) are battling to be fit in time.
“I really don’t see the four making it,” admitted Isabirye. “Their chances are no more than 40 percent.”
The coach was angered at having to fulfill a national league fixture four days before facing 1995 African champions Pirates.
But a poor pitch and highly motivated Ugandans seeking contracts in the lucrative South African Premiership are factors that could favor Revenue Authority in the CAF second-tier competition.
Pirates are used to billiardtable smooth pitches and stars like midfielder Oupa Manyisa will not enjoy the hard, bumpy Mandela National Stadium surface.
Manyisa and his teammates must also confront opponents on the verge of their greatest African achievement, and encouraged by the chance to win a contract with a South African club.
Pirates defeated Ugandans Express 20 years ago en route to becoming the only South African winners of the CAF Champions League.
That achievement has not been forgotten by Ugandans, who rate the Soweto side among the best on the continent and gave Revenue no chance of causing an upset.
But when Jele sent an unstoppable header past goalkeeper Brighton Mhlongo while trying to clear a cross, the tie took a dramatic turn.
Revenue Authority are among five east African clubs in action this weekend with Tanzanians Young Africans best placed to succeed as they take a 5-1 lead over Platinum to Zimbabwe.
Mrisho Ngasa and Burundian Hamis Tambwe are the Yanga dangermen with both averaging a goal a game in three CAF outings this season.
Sudanese Al-Ahly Shendy hold a 2-1 advantage over MK Etancheite that may not be sufficient to survive the return match in Kinshasa.
Ethiopians Dedebit and Rwandans Rayon Sports enjoy home advantage, but must wipe out twogoal deficits.
Dedebit confront Nigerians Warri Wolves and Rayon tackle Egyptians Zamalek, the second most successful CAF club with nine titles.
Ghanaians Hearts of Oak, winners of the first Confederation Cup in 2004, bring a 2-1 lead over Senegalese Olympique Ngor to M’Bour, 80 kilometres south of Dakar.
Swaziland police team Royal Leopard, shock preliminary-round winners over South Africans Wits, face a tough task in Angola having been held 2-2 at home by Petro Atletico.