Uganda Cranes will, in a week’s time, assemble for a World Cup qualifying trip to West Africa and also share their views on the next Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).
A 25-man squad was announced on Friday to prepare for the group J clash with Liberia in Monrovia with only two new faces, both of them in midfield. Boban Zirintunsa (Power Dynamos) and Kizito Luwagga (Leixieos, Portugal), two players who featured for Bunnamwaya before turning professional, got maiden summons.
Mike Mutyaba (TP Mazembe, DR Congo) returns to the team following a long injury lay-off. He last played for Uganda in the 2012 Afcon qualifier against Kenya on October 8, 2011. By the time the team assembles at Namboole Stadium, they will also be aware of the hurdles that await them in qualifying for the next Afcon to be hosted by Morocco in 2015.
The draw for the qualifiers will be conducted today. It will be the climax of the two-day Confederation of African Football (Caf) congress in Marrakech, Morocco. Coach Bobby Williamson’s side is in pot B and can only face teams from pot A and C. Teams in pot A include reigning Afcon champions Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Ghana.
Three decade drought
Zambia, 2013 runners up Burkina Faso, Tunisia, DR Congo, Cape Verde, South Africa and Mali are also possibilities as Cranes seek to qualify for the first time since 1978. Uganda cannot meet Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Senegal, Cameroon, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Gabon, Congo Brazzaville and Central African Republic. Pot C has Ethiopia, Benin, Angola, Niger, Zimbabwe, Equatorial, Mozambique, Malawi, Burundi, Liberia and Sudan. The fourth group will be determined after the preliminary round.
While the format for the 2013 qualifiers was narrowed down to a knockout, qualification for the 2015 edition will revert to the old with the 11 group winners going through to join the hosts. The other four to bring the tally to 16 teams will be chosen from the best runners-up upon the completion of the six games that each will have played.
Goalkeepers: Denis Onyango (Mamelodi Sundowns, SA), Abel Dhaira (Simba, TZ) and Hamza Muwonge (Vipers) Defenders: Denis Guma (SCVU), Simeon Masaba (URA), Joseph Ochaya (Asante Kotoko, Ghana), Henry Kalungi (Railhawks, USA) Isaac Isinde (St. George Ethiopia), Nicholas Wadada (Vipers), Godfrey Walusimbi (CS Don Bosco, DRC), Andrew Mwesigwa (Ordabasy, Kazakhstan).
Midfielders: Boban Zirintusa (Power Dynamos, Zimbabwe), Kizito Luwagga (Leixieos, Portugal), Said Kyeyune (URA), Mike Mutyaba (TP Mazembe, DRC) and Tony Mawejje (free agent), Musa Mudde (Simba, TZ), Hassan Wasswa (KCC), Geoffrey ‘Baba’ Kizito (Saigon Xuan, Vietnam), Moses Oloya (Saigon Xuan, Vietnam)
Strikers: Hamis ‘Diego’ Kiiza (Yanga, TZ), Daniel Sserunkuma (Gor Mahia, Kenya), Geoffrey Massa (Yenicami, Cyprus), Brian Umony (Azam, TZ), Emmanuel Okwi (Etoile Du Sahel,Tunisia)