Uganda confident they can silence Mohamed Salah, says Denis Onyango

Mohamed Salah JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images

Uganda are confident that they know how to silence Egypt's star man Mohamed Salah in the upcoming World Cup qualifying double-header between the two sides, according to Cranes skipper Denis Onyango.

Salah has hit the ground running after returning to the Premier League with Liverpool before the season, and has already scored two in his first three games back in the top flight - including the Reds' third in their 4-0 rout of Arsenal on Sunday.

Even though the Gunners' defence were so brutally exposed by the Pharaohs frontman at the weekend, Cranes captain Onyango is confident that the East Africans know how to contain the 25-year-old when the two sides meet on Thursday.

"When we played against Egypt at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations and lost late in the game 1-0 we kept them at bay," Onyango told KweséESPN, "but it was evident they were holding on to the ball more than us and Salah showed high levels of trickery.

"We can handle them," he continued, backing his team to rise to the occasion and avenge their Nations Cup defeat. "This is World Cup qualification, and every player would love to be at the World Cup."

Despite their difficulties in beating Uganda in Gabon - Egypt only got the break through late on when Abdallah Said bagged an 89th-minute winner - the Pharaohs proceeded to reach the AFCON final where they were pitted against Cameroon.

Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny opened the scoring in the 22nd minute, before two second-half goals from Nicolas Nkoulou and Vincent Aboubakar shattered Egyptian dreams of a record-extending eighth continental crown.

"I know Egypt play more as a team [than Arsenal] but Elneny is also another individually skillful lad who has very good feet, [is good] on the ball and good going forward," Onyango noted, "but he has not been very busy since the season started.

"[Elneny and Salah] are very skilful players who bring lots of experience from their teams in the English Premiership and we must keep them under close watch," the reigning Africa-based African Footballer of the Year concluded. "It's going to be war in Kampala because we need the three points before we travel to Egypt."

Heading into the double-header -- where the two sides meet in the Ugandan capital on Thursday before resuming hostilities in Alexandria six days later -- Egypt top Group E on six points, with Uganda second on four.

Ghana, the group's other heavyweights, took just one point from their opening two fixtures and need a significant improvement in their double-header against pointless Congo-Brazzaville if they're to keep their feint World Cup hopes alive.

Uganda, under interim coach Moses Basena following the departure of Micho Sredojevic, are without striker Geoffrey Massa following his retirement from international duty, while another key man from the Nations Cup -- midfielder Tony Mawejje - is also absent.

Uganda Squad vs. Egypt

Goalkeepers: Denis Onyango (Mamelodi Sundowns, South Africa), Robert Odongkara (St George, Ethiopia), Ismail Watenga (Vipers), Benjamin Ochan (KCCA)

Defenders: Nicholas Wakiro Wadada (Vipers), Isaac Muleme (KCCA), Timothy Dennis Awany (KCCA), Murushid Juuko (Simba, Tanzania), Bernard Muwanga (SC Villa), Geofrey Walusimbi (Gor Mahia, Kenya), Dennis Iguma (Al Ahed, Lebanon), Paul Musamali (KCCA), Isaac Isinde (Buildcon, Zambia)

Midfielders: Khalid Aucho (Unattached), Geofrey Kizito (Than Quang Ninh, Vietnam), Ivan Ntege (Township Rollers, Botswana), Muzamiru Mutyaba (KCCA), Moses Waiswa (Vipers), Shafiq Kagimu (URA), William Luwagga Kizito (CSM Politehnica Iasi, Romania), Wasswa Hassan Mawanda (Njimeh, Lebanon), Joseph Ochaya (Lusaka Dynamos, Zambia)

Strikers: Derrick Nsibambi (KCCA), Geoffrey Sserunkuma (Buildcon, Zambia), Emmanuel Okwi (Simba, Tanzania), Milton Karisa (Vipers), Farouk Miya (Standard Liege, Belgium)