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    DAY 15 WORLD CUP PREVIEW/STATS/H2H: Senegal Praying For A Point To Progress, England And Belgium Fighting For First Place



    Thursday 28 June
    Japan vs Poland (Group H) – Volgograd – 5pm
    Senegal vs Colombia (Group H) – Samara – 5pm
    England vs Belgium (Group G) – Kaliningrad – 9pm
    Panama vs Tunisia (Group G) – Saransk – 7pm
    Japan could recall Leicester’s Shinji Okazaki, who has featured in both of their previous games as a substitute.
    Veteran goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima has made costly errors in consecutive matches and may be replaced by 23-year-old Kosuke Nakamura.
    Already eliminated Poland could make changes for their final game.
    Experienced defender Kamil Glik made his comeback from a shoulder injury as a substitute against Colombia and may return to the starting line-up.

    Japan have won the two previous games between these sides, scoring a total of seven unanswered goals.
    They beat the Poles 5-0 in Hong Kong in February 1996 and won 2-0 in the Polish city of Lodz in March 2002. Both games were friendlies.

    The only previous occasion Japan went through a World Cup group stage unbeaten was as co-hosts in 2002 (W2, D1).
    Japan have failed to score in four of their last five World Cup games against European opponents (W1, D2, L2), with their only goals coming in a 3-1 victory over Denmark in 2010.
    Keisuke Honda’s goal against Senegal made him the first Japanese player to score at three different World Cups (2010, 2014, 2018).
    Honda has been involved in seven of Japan’s last 10 World Cup goals (four goals and three assists).

    The only previous occasion that Poland failed to win a single game at a World Cup was on their debut in 1938. The tournament was pure knockout, and they were beaten 6-5 by Brazil after extra time.
    The Poles were the first European side eliminated from the 2018 World Cup, and they have now bowed out at the group stage in three successive appearances (2002, 2006 and 2018).
    They won their final group game in both 2002 and 2006.
    Poland’s only previous World Cup meeting with an Asian side was their 2-0 defeat to tournament co-hosts South Korea in 2002.
    The Poles have not kept a clean sheet at the World Cup since a 1-0 win against Portugal in 1986, conceding 23 goals in their 10 games since then.

    Senegal used a 4-4-2 formation in the win against Poland but switched to 4-3-3 for the draw with Japan.
    A point will guarantee they reach the last 16 so coach Aliou Cisse may be tempted to field a defensive line-up.
    Carlos Sanchez is available for Colombia after serving a one-game suspension.
    Fellow midfielder Abel Aguilar was forced off after half an hour against Poland because of an injury and will not be risked.
    Mateus Uribe replaced him as a substitute and could be promoted to the starting line-up, while goalkeeper David Ospina is fit despite suffering a knock against the Poles.
    James Rodriguez and Wilmar Barrios are one booking away from a ban, as are five Senegalese players.

    Senegal head coach Aliou Cisse: “A player like Sadio Mane is a player with a lot of expectations and he is one of the players under the spotlight.
    “He can do better, but [against Japan] he was better than against Poland and he needs to do better against Colombia.” Colombia head coach Jose Pekerman: “There are so many situations that can make or break a football team. This is a World Cup. We have to simply forget any quick judgements or prejudices that we might have.
    “When I [choose] the starting line-up, I do it taking account of the whole context in which we find ourselves.”

    Their only previous meeting was a friendly in Buenos Aires prior to the last World Cup in May 2014.
    Colombia led 2-0 at half-time through goals from Teofilo Gutierrez and Carlos Bacca but Moussa Kounate and Cheikh Ndoye struck after the break to earn Senegal, who ended the game with 10 men, a 2-2 draw.

    Senegal have faced South American opponents just once before in the World Cup, drawing 3-3 in their final group game in 2002 against Uruguay (a game in which they led 3-0).
    The Senegalese kept a clean sheet in their first ever World Cup match, against France in 2002, but have not recorded a shut-out in any of their subsequent six games.
    They have conceded three goals from just seven shots on target faced at this World Cup.
    Moussa Wague, 19, became the first African teenager to score a World Cup goal in the 2-2 draw with Japan.
    Senegal are unbeaten in the 15 matches Sadio Mane has scored in (W9, D6).

    Los Cafeteros’ first World Cup match against African opposition was a 2-1 loss to Cameroon in extra time in 1990. Since then, they’ve beaten Tunisia (in 1998) and Ivory Coast (in 2014).
    They have scored four goals from seven shots on target at the 2018 World Cup, including three from four against Poland.
    Colombia’s 3-0 win against the Poles equalled their biggest win at the World Cup (in 2014 they beat Greece 3-0 and Japan 4-1).
    James Rodriguez has six goals and four assists in seven World Cup appearances.

    Both England and Belgium are assured of their place in the last 16, and are expected to make a number of changes for their final Group G game.
    Three Lions midfielder Dele Alli, who suffered a muscle problem against Tunisia, trained on Wednesday but is unlikely to be risked.
    Marcus Rashford and Gary Cahill could earn recalls, and Eric Dier will start.
    Kevin de Bruyne, Thomas Meunier and Jan Vertonghen are a booking away from a ban and unlikely to play for Belgium.
    Striker Romelu Lukaku has been ruled out, Dries Mertens also has an ankle issue while captain Eden Hazard has been nursing a calf problem.
    Belgium midfielder Marouane Fellaini says the denouement to Group G between Belgium and England will be a “strange game”, and it certainly feels like it has a surreal edge to it.
    With both sides already qualified, and level on points, goal difference and goals scored, their disciplinary records will decide who finishes top of the group if they draw in Kaliningrad. Should they still be level on that factor, the rare sight of the drawing of lots will take place to determine who finishes top.
    There has been much debate in the media, pubs, offices and living rooms across England about whether Gareth Southgate’s side would actually be better off finishing second rather than top as it could see them avoid a quarter-final against Brazil.
    It’s not something that Southgate is letting affect him. He said: “I’ve heard talk of it being better finishing second, but how do you work all that out, really?
    “What I’ve discussed with the players is that we must not waste any energy thinking whether it’s better to be first or second in the group, or who we might play in future rounds.”
    One thing in England’s favour is the incredible record they have against Belgium. Their only defeat in 21 meetings came back in 1936.

    England are unbeaten in their previous two matches against Belgium at the World Cup.
    They drew 4-4 in 1954 and won 1-0 in the second round in 1990 courtesy of a volley from David Platt in extra time.
    They are unbeaten in the last 11 meetings with Belgium, most recently winning a friendly in June 2012.

    England have scored eight goals at this World Cup, as many as in 1954 and 1990. The only time they have scored more was the 11 they netted in 1966.
    The only time England have won all three of their games in the group stage of a World Cup was in 1982, when they beat France, Czechoslovakia and Kuwait.
    Harry Kane has scored five goals in the group stage of this tournament. The last player to score more in the opening round of a World Cup was Russia’s Oleg Salenko, with six in 1994.
    Kane has scored in each of his past five appearances for England. The last player to score in six games in a row for the Three Lions was Tommy Lawton in 1939.
    The only England player to have scored more at a single World Cup is Gary Lineker, who scored six on his way to winning the Golden Boot in 1986.
    Kane has five goals from five shots on target at this tournament.

    Belgium have won each of their past two World Cup matches by a margin of three goals – no team has won three consecutive matches at the tournament by three or more goals.
    This is the fifth occasion at a World Cup that Belgium have won their opening two matches – the only previous time they have won all three was in 2014.
    The Red Devils are unbeaten in their last 11 World Cup group games.
    Michy Batshuayi scored one goal from six attempts from just 22 minutes of action so far.

    Tunisia will have to use their third different goalkeeper in the tournament in their final match against Panama.
    Mouez Hassen suffered a shoulder injury against England in their first game and Farouk Ben Mustapha, who played against Belgium, injured his knee in training.
    That leaves Aymen Mathlouthi as the only available keeper in their squad.
    Panama will have to make at least two changes from the side that lost 6-1 to England on Sunday as Michael Murillo and Armando Cooper are both suspended.
    Tunisia will also be without central defender Dylan Bronn, who was carried off with a left knee injury after scoring in the 5-2 loss to Belgium on Saturday.
    Both sides are already eliminated after two defeats each and Panama need to win to avoid finishing bottom of Group G in their first appearance at a World Cup finals.
    Panama have conceded the most goals in this tournament as a 3-0 loss to Belgium was followed by the heavy defeat by England, although Felipe Baloy made history by becoming the first Panamanian player to score at a finals.
    Tunisia will regret conceding a last-minute goal to Harry Kane as England won 2-1 in their opener, before the African side were outclassed by Belgium.
    This was their first appearance at a finals since 2006 and they have maintained their unwelcome run of never making it out of the group phase. However, they will be confident of recording only their second World Cup victory, with their previous win being a 3-1 success over Mexico in 1978.
    Tunisia are 21st in the world rankings, while Panama are down in 55th as they look for their first World Cup victory after their shock qualification, which pushed the United States out of contention in October.

    This will be the first meeting between Panama and Tunisia.

    Panama have conceded nine goals from 13 shots on target faced so far at the World Cup.
    The last time a nation lost their first three World Cup games in their history – as Panama could do – was in 2006, with both Togo and Serbia doing so.
    In their last game against England, Panama’s Felipe Baloy scored his country’s first World Cup goal, at the age of 37 years and 120 days.

    Tunisia are winless in their last 13 World Cup matches (drew four, lost nine) since winning their first ever World Cup match in 1978 against Mexico.
    Tunisia have already conceded more goals at this World Cup (seven) than they did in any of their previous four tournaments; their previous high was six conceded in 2006.
    Tunisia’s only ever World Cup victory came in their only previous match against a North/Central American nation – beating Mexico 3-1 in 1978.
    Tunisia faced 12 shots on target in their 5-2 defeat to Belgium, the most they have ever faced in a World Cup game.
    No player has been involved in more World Cup goals for Tunisia than Wahbi Khazri (two), who both scored and assisted in their 5-2 defeat against Belgium.



    I’m Going To Win Commonwealth Medal For My Mum Who Was Knocked By Speeding Boda Boda – Bombers Captain Vows…



    Bombers captain Joshua Tukamuhebwa in action

    Bombers captain Joshua Tukamuhebwa has told theGrapevine that he is determined to win a medal at this year’s commonwealth games in Birmingham, England for his late mother.

    Tukamuhebwa’s mother, Enid Bindishanga died after she was knocked by a speeding motor bike along Jinja Road.

    Enid had gone at the meat parker along Port Bell Road to buy meat for the family.

    She was rushed to hospital where she was later pronounced dead.

    “I am going to do everything possible to win a medal in this competition for my mum,” the Naguru based boxer said.

    Tukamuhebwa narrated that after his mother’s death, life became meaningless because she meant a lot to him and his siblings, “that’s why I want to win a medal in her memory.”


    Tukamuhebwa  also disclosed that after his mum’s death, he is now the bread winner at home and has to act like a parent to his young siblings and also look for their school fees.


    He added that he is going to use the money government will give him as his facilitation, funds from Uganda Boxing Federation (UBF) president Moses Muhangi and President Museveni’s pledge if he wins a medal, to cater for his siblings.

    This will be Tukamuhebwa’s second international competition after the all Africa games in 2019 in Morocco, where he was defeated in the first encounter.

    The commonwealth games are scheduled to take place between 28th July to 8th August 2022.

    Uganda will be represented in several sports disciplines which include; boxing, athletics, swimming, squash, table tennis, badminton, rugby 7’s and netball.

    theGrapevine wishes our men and women the best in Birmingham.


    By Juma Ali


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    UOC President Discusses How Team Uganda Is Prepared To Sweep Medals In Commonwealth Games And How They Are Going To Handle Issue Of Athletes Disappearing…



    President Museveni with wife Janet flagging off Teams for the Commonwealth games. Bottom right is UOC boss Donald Rukare

    Few days are left to the commonwealth games that are scheduled to take place in Birmingham in England, between 28th July to 8th August 2022.

    Uganda will be represented in several sports disciplines which include; boxing, athletics, swimming, squash, table tennis, badminton, rugby 7’s and netball .

    In the last edition, in 2018, bomber’s boxers Reagan Ssimbwa, Nasir Bashir and table tennis player Halimah Nambooze disappeared in Gold Coast in Australia and never returned with the team.

    This has been a norm after several international games. Some athletes disappear after the games in search for greener pastures.

    theGrapevine sat down with Uganda Olympic Committee president Donald Rukare to discuss how the Ugandan team is prepared for the games and how they are going to handle the issue of athletes disappearing.

    Grapevine: How are you prepared for the commonwealth games as team Uganda?

    Rukare: The preparation are good and we are ready to win medals.

    Grapevine: How many medals do you hope to win this time around?

    Rukare: In 2014, we got 5 medals, in 2018 we scooped 6 medals, this time around we hope to double the medals we got in 2018 to twelve or more.

    Grapevine: Of all athletes, who do you think has more chances of getting a medal?

    Rukare: All the athletes have equal chances of getting medals.

    Grapevine: What were the challenges you are facing as you prepare the teams for the commonwealth games?

    Rukare: We still need financial assistance to help us prepare our athletes.

    Grapevine: Will athletes like Joshua Cheptegei, Jacob Kiplimo, Halimah Nakayi, Peruth Chemutai, who competed in World Athletics Championship in Oregon also compete in commonwealth games? And will it not affect them?

    Rukare: Are you a coach? Hahaha [he laughs], they will definitely participate and it will not affect them because they are sportsmen and women. So, they are aware of the tight sports schedules sometimes.

    Grapevine: Have you prepared any incentives like prizes for those who will win medal?

    Rukare: We are still discussing that, but the prize money from President Museveni is there. Gold medal winners get Shs.5 million, silver medal winners get Shs.3 million and bronze medal winners get Shs.2 million.

    Grapevine: Why were you given few athlete slots [18 athletes] yet Uganda’s hope is in athletics?

    Rukare: We were given only 41 slots which were supposed to be shared with other federations.

    Grapevine: What challenges do athletes face when they go to such competitions?

    Rukare: The issue of food. Sometimes they are not used to the food in some of these countries.

    Grapevine: So, are you going with your own cook this time around?

    Rukare: Yes, we hope to go with our own cook.

    Grapevine: Let us talk about the issue of athletes who escape during international games, how do you plan to handle it this time around?

    Rukare: (Jokingly says) I think if it is possible, we need to hire the services of Maama Fiina to come to our rescue and tell us those who are going to escape since she is a traditional doctor who can see things before they happen.


    By Juma Ali


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    It Will Be A Tight Race This Year – Dr. Nsereko Reveals Who Will Win Rally Championship This Year and Why Female Drivers Are Not Part Of This Year’s Challenge…



    Dr. Godfrey Nsereko

    Uganda rally driver, Dr. Godfrey Nsereko has told theGrapevine that the national rally championship race will be tight this year.

    In an interview with this website, Nsereko also disclosed why female rally drivers have not been part of the race this time around.

    Below is his conversation with theGrapevine;

    Grapevine: How competitive is the race for NRC title this year?

    Nsereko : The title is still competitive because the gap between the leader, Ponsiano Lwakataka and his competitors is small with only three races remind.

    Grapevine: Who do you think will win the NRC title?

    Nsereko: Ponsiano Lwakataka because he is leading and has led most of the races. I can see him performing well in the remaining three races.

    Grapevine: You are also a rally driver, what has hindered you from winning the NRC title?

    Nsereko: I’m still driving a 2 wheel drive car which is not powerful like those of Jas Mangat, Arthur Blick, Duncan Mubiru and others.

    Grapevine: What are the challenges you are facing in this sport?

    Nsereko: Most challenges are financial because I don’t have sponsors to support me.

    Grapevine: Why do you think, female rally drivers don’t drive now days?

    Nsereko: I will still state that the problem is financial. Apart from Suzan Muwonge who can manage herself, Rose Lwakataka has financial problem and Leila Mayanja is a federation secretary and is not allowed to take part.

    Grapevine: What challenges still hinder this sport from growing?

    Nsereko: When a sport lacks enough funds to push it and help the sportsmen and women in that sport, it will always struggle. Secondly, the money which is coming from the government is still small yet a lot of money is needed to organise rally events.

    Grapevine: There was a conflict recently because rally drivers and bikers, how far with this beef?

    Nsereko: Talks are still ongoing; I believe very soon they will reach an understanding.

    Grapevine: What was the cause of that conflict?

    Nsereko: It was a Fight for power. Each group was fighting to lead.

    Grapevine: By the way, why did you decide to join motor sport?

    Nsereko: At first, I was a footballer, but later, I realized that my future was in motor sport.

    Grapevine: Which rally drivers, do you fear most?

    Nsereko: Ponsiano Lwakataka and Jas Mangat because of their tactics and driving skills.


    By Juma Ali


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