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CAF Confederation Cup match preview: Rivers United versus KCCA

Monday, 19 June 2017

It’s make or break time for Rivers United as Group A of the 2017 CAF Confederation Cup enters match day four.

The section is extremely tough-looking with all four teams in the group, FUS Rabat (Morocco), Kampala Capital City Authourity (KCCA, Uganda), Club Africain (Tunisia) and Rivers United (Nigeria) peerless at home thus far.

It makes Tuesday’s game at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium Port Harcourt one that leaves little margin for error, for the Nigerian side especially, as any result other than an outright victory could mean curtains as far as their aspirations of reaching the quarter finals of the competition are concerned.

KCCA won the reverse fixture 2-1 at the Phillip Omondi Stadium (Lugogo), Kampala on June 3; a result that lifted them from bottom to second place on the log; such are the fine margins in this group!

Head coach of KCCA, Mike Hillary Mutebi acknowledges that things are evenly poised on a knife edge in the group and that goals difference could represent a tie-breaker eventually.

“We have not been effective so far as we should have won the (reverse fixture) 5-2.

“The result in Lugogo was not a true reflection of our dominance,” Mutebi said.

“The (issue) of goals difference is worrying so we have to try to outscore the opponent.

“In all our away games in the Confederation Cup, we have only failed to score against FUS Rabat and El-Masry; we always score away from home.

“Rivers United is a very good team but we (KCCA) are confident we can rub shoulders with them because we have tested the best,” he said.

Mutebi however frowned at what he called ‘time-wasting’ tactics employed by the Nigerian club in the first leg; sentiments echoed by his captain, Denis Okot Oola.

Okot however agreed with his coach that the ‘Pride of Rivers’ represents a solid proposition that could cause them more than a few problems on Tuesday.

“Rivers United have experienced players. (Bolaji Sakin) is huge and experienced and can outrun defenders.

“I expect them to play differently in Nigeria,” Okot said.

KCCA unmasked; tactics, style and personnel
This is 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, June 20?

The coach
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 backline
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.

The midfield
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!

The strikers
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 dangerman
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).

Eguma’s thoughts on the big game
Stanley Eguma, the Rivers United technical manager is as experienced as they come having helped Enyimba (as assistant to Okey Emordi in 2005) claim CAF Champions League success.

He also coached Dolphins severally in inter-CAF club competitions in previous seasons and has practically seen it all as far as these sorts of matches are concerned.
He was in typically bullish mood when our official website, spoke to him about Tuesday’s contest.

“We are representing Nigeria and Nigeria is a very big country as far as football is concerned. It is a do-or-die game for us,” Eguma declared.

KCCA FC squad to face Rivers United of Nigeria in Port Harcourt

Benjamin Ochan, Denis Okot, Timothy Awany, Paul Musamali, Bukenya Lawrence, Isaac Muleme, Vincent Kayizzi, Muzamir Mutyaba, Tom Masiko, Derrick Nsibambi, Geoffrey Sserunkuuma, Douglas Kisembo, Habib Kavuma, Denis Rukundo, Paul Mucureezi, Ivan Ntege, Allan Okello and Julius Poloto.

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