The midmorning sun sparkled brightly off the red Cranes training kit as if to emphasize the mood in the team.
Every player chased about gleefully, passed with a desire to improve, and flew into the tackles with the zeal of one aware of the task on Saturday. And when Gor Mahia’s Daniel Sserunkuma and Tusker’s Khalid Aucho made a late entry into the fray after arriving from Kenya yesterday morning, the mood – which had been lifted by the arrival of youngster Yunus Sentamu from his DRC side AS Vita – got even more luminous amidst lighthearted banter between players and Micho Sredojevic’s coaching staff.
Only skipper Andy Mwesigwa, who is in action with his FC Ordabasy in Kazakhstan tonight before flying over Friday morning, and Moses Oloya - whose situation with his Vietnamese club regarding his release was nearing success by press time, are yet to join camp. Midfielder Martin Mutumba continues treatment on his thigh muscle.
Just when all was rolling, Dennis Onyango needed a look at his recovering head-cut from the team doctor. But the goalkeeper resumed play almost immediately.
If the medical break seemed a concern to the prying media and the few spectators, it did not bother Micho, who says that the doubtful, missing and 50-50 players should not worry Ugandans heading into Saturday’s 2015 must-win Nations Cup pre-qualifier against Madagascar.
“Players get medical attention during training and carry on,” said Micho, “Onyango is fine and there is nothing to worry about. “Of course we keep monitoring the progress of all the players and they are all okay training apart from Martin Mutumba who is undergoing treatment on his muscle. “Just know everyone will be assessed for mental toughness, match situation and physical state before they put on that jersey. “We have to respect this country and we will do our best to see that whoever puts on that jersey on Saturday merits it. We shall not gamble on a player that is not 200 per cent fit and ready.”
Just a few steps away, defender Henry Kalungi read from the same scriptures. “Of course we all know what happened in Madagascar (2-1 defeat) and we are training very hard to ensure we correct the mistakes committed on Saturday. “I think we have been ready since we left that place (Madagascar). We got a disappointing result, so everybody knows what’s at stake. Even if they say the game is tomorrow, whoever the coach picks is gonna (sic) come out and give 100 (per cent) plus.”