KAMPALA- Battle lines were drawn the moment Caf confirmed in February that the final two preliminary rounds of qualification to the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations would be played on non-Fifa dates.
The setting for a collision course between players’ clubs and countries was well set for the 28 nations that were to traverse this preliminary hurdle.
The top 21 ranked nations like Ghana, Nigeria and Ivory Coast among others are not affected as their impressive performances in recent campaigns saw them start the qualification from the group stage in September.
Caf’s decision, despite pleas from the affected preliminary-rated nations, meant those countries would depend on clubs mercy if they were to have their players available for national duty on the said dates. According to Fifa rules, clubs are not obliged to release players outside the designated international dates.
Coach Micho Sredojevic’s side have somewhat maneuvered the first three preliminary games (two vs Madagascar and one vs Mauritania) without much harm.
But the trip to Nouakchott, Mauritania yesterday did not go without victims. The team will try to see out their 2-0 first leg lead on Sunday and progress to the group stage without three influential players thanks to Caf’s controversial decision.
Pretoria TUKS striker Geoffrey Massa, scorer of Uganda’s well-taken second goal after Brian Majwega had put the Cranes ahead on 48 minutes at Namboole two weeks ago, and first choice goalkeeper Dennis Onyango (Bidvest Wits, all South Africa) have been ruled because of their clubs’ preseason engagements.
Creative midfielder Moses Oloya is also out after his Vietnamese side Sai Gon insisted they needed him for their league game this weekend.
Earlier, Micho had lost striker Yunus Sentamu after his AS Vita club insisted he returns from DRC following his recovery from injury. Fufa apparently engaged the aforementioned clubs for the players’ release but their requests were sidestepped.
Micho is, however, confident the players available will fill the void. “We cannot cry for spilled milk,” he said, “We will miss them but I am confident the players available will play well and will get the desired result.”
Robert Odongkara is expected to replace Onyango while returning Tonny Mawejje and Khalid Aucho are good cover for Oloya. Daniel Sserunkuma could replace Massa.
Goalkeepers: Benjamin Ochan, Robert Odongkara
Defenders: Denis Guma, Godfrey Walusimbi, Savio Kabugo, Richard Kassaga, Andrew Mwesigwa, Isaac Isinde,
Midfielders:,Luwaga Kizito, Geoffrey Kizito, Khalid Aucho, Farouq Miya, Tonny Mawejje , Brian Majwega
Strikers: Rober Sentongo, Brian Umony , Hamis Kiiza, Daniel Sserunkuma.