Uganda Cranes line up against Congo at the 60,000-capacity Stade Municipal de Kintélé on Sunday knowing that no result can see them leapfrog Egypt to Russia for next year’s World Cup. Yet coach Moses Basena’s men still have a lot to play for.
With a second place, which would see Uganda finish above 1978 Nations Cup nemeses Ghana, at stake; and a chance to consolidate momentum ahead of Cecafa and resumption of the 2019 Nations Cup qualifiers, all is there to play for.
“Being a World Cup game (qualifier),” said Basena, “It’s important for everybody. We went into the qualifiers wanting to finish first and go to the World Cup.
“We missed being first, so this is an opportunity for us to finish second. Finishing second helps our ranking and seeding going forward.”
“It helps our CVs, for me personally as a coach, for the players, and for Uganda as a whole it is interesting times. I’m glad that we brought ourselves into this situation.”
Basena has won two matches, lost as many and drawn one of the five encounters against Rwanda, Egypt and Ghana since taking over from Micho Sredojevic as interim Cranes coach.
He is among the many prospective coaches to apply for the vacant job on permanent basis, with this clash against Congo his final at this level according to an interim understanding with Fufa.
“For me it’s been an honour to manage the team at this level. I’ll continue doing my work and the results will speak for themselves,” he said.
His captain, goalkeeper Denis Onyango, also says the game could not be more important.
“It may be the so-called dead rubber but for us it means everything,” said the Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper and Africa’s best player based on the continent. “We are using it to prepare for other upcoming engagements and we want to finish strong and get better seeding and draws.”
Egypt qualified with a game to spare and top Group E on 12 points. The Pharaohs also end their campaign away to Ghana on Sunday.
The Cranes have eight points, three ahead of third-placed Ghana.