Mamelodi Sundowns' Ugandan goalkeeper Denis Onyango aims for World Cup spot
Posted: 26 September 2017 Time: 14:20
Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper Denis Onyango would love to get an opportunity to play at the FIFA World Cup, just like his hero Oliver Kahn did for Germany.
Kahn, a German legend who was regarded as one of the best between the sticks during his playing days, was part of the teams that played at the 1998 and 2002 World Cups, inspiring young keepers such as Onyango.
History beckons for Onyango’s Ugandan national side which currently sits in second place in Group E of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, two points behind leaders Egypt.
Before the qualifiers, Onyango did not think he would ever get an opportunity to play in football’s biggest showpiece, but Uganda’s impressive campaign has given him reason to now believe that they can qualify for the first time in the country’s history.
He has proven to be a key man during the qualifiers, with three clean sheets in four matches.
“I’ve never dreamt of being at the World Cup at one stage, but when you work hard things happen by themselves. This is an opportunity and it’s up to us to qualify. Working hard for all these years will give us results by going to the World Cup,” Onyango told KickOff.com, before talking about why Kahn inspired him while growing up.
“I was looking at Oliver Kahn. I was a young boy and I would see how he used to command the team well. Peter Schmeichel and other goalkeepers also inspired me.”
Uganda host Ghana in Kampala in their penultimate group match on October 7, desperate to get a win that will boost their chances of qualifying. Onyango predicts that the qualifiers will go to the wire as countries battle it out for the five places allocated to Africa at the World Cup.
“It [the group] is still open. I think it will go until the last game, but it’s important for us to win the game which is against Ghana at home and put pressure on Egypt because they are playing away against Ghana in the last game. Ghana won't make it easy for them.
“So for us it’s all about winning our remaining games and to see how far we can go because no one gave us a chance. We have surprised everyone,” concluded Onyango, who endured CAF Champions League elimination on the weekend with Sundowns.