Nairobi - If the banter that has been doing rounds is anything to go by, then the fans who either tune in to SuperSport 9 East or trek to Simba Union Grounds in Nairobi this morning for the East African Cup (EAC) final, should expect a thriller.
Ugandan franchises Warriors and Knights, who traveled together by road on Friday to the Kenya capital, are set to slug it out for a total cash prize of Shs30m. The winner pockets Shs22m, the losing finalist Shs6.5m with the Player of the Tournament, who will surely be a Ugandan this time, pocketing a cool Shs1.5m.
During the shared nets session at Lugogo, coaches Johan Rudolph (Knights) and Henry Okecho (Warriors) have been paying ‘special attention’ to the finer details of players in their respective camps. The players have, on other hand, traded some barbs.
Warriors have been labeled as a side of bowling all-rounders whereas the Knights have been referred to as the batsmen.
“It’s true words have been said,” confirmed Knights skipper Davis Karashani, also the Uganda captain.
“They think we are bowlers but we will show them that we can bat better than them,” reiterated Warriors captain Lawrence Ssematimba. But the banter that has spread further to social media groups does bare some truth. Statistics show that Knights have three batsmen; Arthur Kyobe (184 runs), Arthur Ziraba (76) and Hamza Saleh (68) in the competition’s top 10 whereas Warriors’ opening batsman Roger Mukasa shockingly leads the bowling charts with eight scalps at a cost of 46 runs in 18.5 miserly overs.
For the first time since the inception of the EAC three years ago, teams from the same country will be playing against each other for the top prize. No Ugandan team has, however, ever won the EAC.
But in the inaugural edition, Knights did defeat Warriors by five wickets in the Twenty20 East Africa Premier League (EAPL) final.
But Ssematimba’s Warriors come into this fixture with more than a point to prove as they have been the more dominant of the two outfits this season.
“We lost in the T20 final because Rising Star Chuis had Pakistan internationals Abdul Razzaq and Kamran Akmal in their team. We don’t want to lose two finals in two months,” said Ssematimba. Karashani is equally pumped up; “We know each other very well. There will be many key battles, spin bowlers will have a major say and expect a tight game.”