Sundowns stars head off in different directions in search of glory this week
Mamelodi Sundowns teammates Kennedy Mweene and Denis Onyango headed off in differing directions after Sunday’s Premier Soccer League (PSL) win at Platinum Stars as they both seek to keep alive their dreams of participation in the World Cup.
Neither played in the 1-0 victory at the Royal Bafokeng Sport Palace – new Ghanaian signing Razak Brimah was in goal – but they are key to their country’s chances as Africa’s qualifying campaign for Russia reaches a crucial juncture.
Onyango has been a stalwart for Uganda over the years and a catalyst for their qualification for this year’s Africa Cup of Nations finals after a 38-year absence.
Despite frequent injury Onyango is key to Uganda’s hopes as they must beat Ghana at home on Saturday to stay on the tails of Egypt in Group E.
Any other result will see the Pharaohs qualify.
Uganda’s achievement‚ which comes as they have risen rapidly from a lowly ranking‚ has been something of a fairytale story in African football and Onyango’s achievement last year‚ when he was named the best footballer on the African continent by the Confederation of African Football‚ has made him a national treasure at home.
But he will have to be in sharp form as Ghana‚ who still have a marginal mathematical chance‚ scored five goals in their last World Cup qualifier away against the Congo in Brazzaville last month.
Zambia have an even more difficult task away in Nigeria where they must win otherwise hand qualification to the Super Eagles.
Nigeria need only draw in Uyo on Saturday to finish top of Group B and become the first country to qualify but if Zambia win then they are set for a dramatic last round of matches next month.
Zambia‚ coached by former Kaizer Chiefs striker Wedson Nyirenda‚ did the near impossible in the last round of qualifiers and beat Algeria both home and away.
Mweene made a key penalty save to help his side and was outstanding in the 1-0 win in Constantine on September 5.
He returned to Sundowns with a slight knee injury but is now fit to play and has joined up with his Zambian team mates as they head off to Nigeria.
They are camping in nearby Ghana for a few days before the match to prepare.
Brimah‚ ironically‚ was not called up by Ghana for their match in Kampala even though he was their number one at the Nations Cup finals at the start of the year.
His lack of game time has cost him a place in the national squad with Richard Ofori of Maritzburg United taking his place as first choice.