By Thomas Odongo
Uganda national rugby 15s side alias Rugby Cranes will kick off the 2018 Rugby Africa Gold Cup campaign away against giants Namibia on Saturday at the Hage Geingob Stadium in Windhoek, Namibia.
Namibia are last year’s Gold Cup champions while Uganda finished third out of the five teams but put up a good show though.
Uganda face Namibia with gruesome memories of the team that inflicted them their worst defeat in last year’s games and with Uganda trying to build something new, it is bound to be a whole story all together.
Uganda lost 24-18 at home to Namibia during last year’s campaign in what also served as their second-last game of the tournament.
The game was a red-letter day tie for Uganda and the loss confirmed Uganda out of the battle for the crown with a game to spare but slimly missed out on the second spot to noisy neighbors Kenya.
Albeit impressing during last season’s games, Phillip Wokorach is out of the match sheet due to fatigue from the Amsterdam 7s where emerged MVP but Adrian Kasito takes his position.
Pirates star Conrad Wanyama is set for his debut from the bench while scrumhalf James Ijongat has also been recalled after a very long time of being sidelined.
Rugby Cranes coach has maintained faith on Kabras Sugar RFC lock(5) Eliphaz Emong who made his debut at the Elgon Cup but he will be boosted with the return of veteran lock(4) Charles Uhuru who missed out on the Elgon Cup team sheet.
‘’I am delighted the coach still has faith in me but this time I want to impress him. It will be a very hard task against the champions but I have been training hard,’’ Emong noted.
Seven players have been dropped from the Elgon Cup team sheet with Coach John Duncan trying to rotate the squad and also trying to find out the correct team.
Just like last season, Collin Kimbowa again starts from the bench but 7s team skipper Michael Okorach is out in preparation for the 7s World Cup.
There are eleven changes to this year's international season squad from last year's.
Uganda will play their second Gold Cup match on 7th-July away against Kenya in what will also serve as the return leg of the Elgon Cup.
Rugby Cranes Team
1. Asuman Mugerwa 2. Paul Ssekate 3. Saul Kivumbi 4. Charles Uhuru 5. Eliphaz Emong 6. Byron Oketayot 7. Brian Asaba 8. Arthur Mukama 9. Aaron Ofoirwoth 10. James Ijongat 11. James Odong 12. Pius Ogena 13. Ian Munyani 14. Justin Kimono 15. Adrian Kasito 16. Joseph Tamale 17. Collin Kimbowa 18. Adnan Mutebi 19. Robert Aziku 20. Musa Muwonge 21. Conrad Wanyama 22. Eric Mula 23. Lawrence Ssebuliba.