Cranes coach Sebastien Desabre and his team started their journey to Morocco yesterday, stopping by Doha, Qatar en route to Rabat, where Uganda will play friendlies against Congo Brazzaville and Cameroon.
The friendlies are the tonic Sebastienwill use to test his ammunition ahead of the Africa Nations Championship (Chan) finals.
Chan, a tournament exclusive to nationals who ply their trade in domestic leagues, kicks off on January 13 in the Moroccan capital of Casablanca, with the hosts opening against Mauritania.
The Cranes open their campaign a day later with a clash against Zambia in Marrakech. Uganda next face Namibia on January 18 before completing their group stage assignment against Ivory Coast four days later.
Sebastien, the Frenchman, may be the new pilot; but strange as it may read, Uganda arrive at this tournament as the most experienced in terms of appearances.
Only their January 22 opponents, Ivory Coast, will share the same number of appearances at the finals when the first ball is kicked – four times to be exact.
Uganda first qualified for Chan in 2010 for the 2011 Sudan edition, then under Scotsman Bobby Williamson.
Bobby’s successor, Micho Sredojevic, then led Uganda to the 2014 finals in South Africa and 2016 edition in Rwanda before Moses Basena completed qualification for Morocco 2018, which Sebastien and Matia Lule will now oversee.
Feat should count
But as Uganda make their fourth appearance, Sebastien will be interested to know that there is a number of holes to be fixed from the previous editions.
While Uganda and Ivory Coast boast of the most appearances out of the 16 teams at the finals, the Cranes have never gone past the group stage.
“The ultimate target would be to win the competition,” said Sebastien, “Maybe it is possible maybe it’s not, but we will work very hard to do well in the competition.”
The 2014 winners, Libya, are the only champions at the finals, while Angola are the only runners up (2011). The would-have-been defending champions, DRC, did not qualify.
Sudan, Zambia, Nigeria and Ivory have, on one, occasion each finished third, while Coast Equatorial Guinea and Namibia are making their debuts at the finals.
CHAN 2018 MOROCCO
Group B fixtures
Jan 14: Zambia vs Uganda
Jan 18: Uganda vs Namibia
Jan 22: Uganda vs Cote d’Ivoire