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URA have to overcome mental block to beat Express 

Express FC Mahad Kakooza and URA's Ivan Sserubiri

Express FC Mahad Kakooza and URA's Ivan Sserubiri

Express FC made it a hat-trick of wins over URA FC, when they won the first leg of their Stanbic Uganda Cup round of 16 clash 2-1 in Wankulukuku last Saturday, May 1.

Express had to rally after falling behind to a second-minute strike from Ibrahim Dada with goals from Martin Kizza and Eric Kambale.

This proved the dominance of Express over URA this season, especially when one considers, that they have already done a league double over them. The two sides meet for the Uganda Cup return leg at the Arena of Visions ground in Ndejje today May 4, with URA hoping to overcome the mental block they seem to have developed against Express.

The Red Eagles appear to have a stranglehold over URA, as they go for a fourth successive win. URA’s assistant coach George Lutalo told The Observer on Monday evening that since the game on Saturday, they have been talking to the players about the mistakes they made in that tie. And he is sure URA will turn up a different side for the second leg.

However, Lutalo was quick to add: “You have actually pointed out what our major problem has been. It is a mental problem, which the players have actually realized should have no basis. We are top of the league, because we have been doing things right. And if we apply ourselves the right way, there is no reason why we cannot beat Express.”

Considering the first leg result, URA will only need a 1-0 win to advance to the round of eight, as they continue to pursue their first league and cup double. Yet, looking back at the manner in which they have lost their previous three clashes against Express, it has been a case of more desire and self-belief.

URA have crumbled under the pressure of the direct, physical and athletic game, that Express has applied. URA haven't done well in dealing with the high balls and crosses, something that has not normally been a problem against the other league sides. This has suggested an element of fear for Express.

Lutalo vehemently refuted that, insisting that they only have respect for Express and not fear. He continued that their concentration levels have not been up to scratch in the games against Express. But that will change this time, especially with a strong squad to select from.

URA boast of the return of their leading marksman, Steven Mukwala, who has been out for the last couple of games due to a niggle. Mukwala is the league’s third top-scorer with 11 goals, so his presence should add to URA’s potency upfront.

Yet, because of how solid Express are defensively; URA will need to move the ball faster to avoid the Express defence, because it can prove impregnable. Worse still, Express’ defence deals comfortably with high balls. And considering how short URA’s forwards are, they will find it hard aerially to outwit Express.

On the other hand, expect Express coach Wasswa Bbosa, to set up his team in a defensive way since the onus is not on him to attack. Since a goalless draw would suffice for Express, Bbosa is unlikely to open up the game, which may turn it into a chess-like tie, that is not open at all, but one where his charges largely play on the break.

Meanwhile, the return leg of the Vipers SC and UPDF FC round of 16 tie ended in a 1-1 draw at the St Mary’s stadium in Kitende on Monday. Vipers advanced to the quarter-finals with a 4-2 aggregate score.

In other fixtures today, SC Villa, who hold a 1-0 advantage over Onduparaka FC going into the second leg in Bombo are favourites to make it to the quarter-finals too, as are Wakiso Giants, who face Tooro United in Fort Portal today carrying a 5-1 lead from the first leg.

jovi@observer.ug

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