Tuesday April 29 2014

Mwesigwa tells Cranes not to get carried away

Mwesigwa (R) gets into an aerial challenge before Cranes

Mwesigwa (R) gets into an aerial challenge before Cranes lost to Zambia on penalties at Namboole in 2012 and failed to qualify for last year’s Afcon in S. Africa. Photo by Eddie Chicco 

By Andrew Mwanguhya

KAMPALA- Cranes skipper Andy Mwesigwa has been involved in quite a number of Nations Cup and World Cup qualifying campaigns that the feeling is second nature to him now.

So when the man, who made his international debut in the 2003 Cecafa in Sudan, calls for caution, you have to trust his judgment that has been built over 11 years in the Cranes fold.

Besides, Cranes have been here before; having the likes of Lesotho and Niger in their path to the elusive Nations Cup but still getting floored – never mind the opposition’s perceived on-paper weight.

Now the draw conducted at the Caf headquarters in Cairo, Egypt on Sunday has in Uganda’s path the 189th-ranked Madagascar in the second round preliminaries, with Mauritania/Equatorial Guinea waiting in the third round and Ghana, Togo and Guinea lurking in Group E.

Tough road
Clearly, the road to Afcon Morocco 2015 is not an easy one. “With the experience I have had in the past campaigns,” Mwesigwa, who has been involved in every Afcon and World Cup qualifier since 2003, told Daily Monitor yesterday. “I have learnt that you can never know you are there until you are there, no matter how strong or weak the path you are to go through is.

“So my word to fans and the team is that we shouldn’t be carried away by the draw and the route of this campaign, whether smooth or tough,” he added, the frustrating near misses over the years perhaps ringing aloud in his mind. “But working together with all the entities involved; the players, fans, Fufa and government, each of them fulfilling their obligations, I think success will be on our side.”

The defender is enjoying a rich vein of form at his Kazakhstan Premier League side FC Ordabasy, scoring twice in their 2-1 win over Spartak at the weekend. Uganda last appeared at the Nations Cup in 1978.

First & second round preliminary games
Liberia vs. Lesotho
Kenya vs. Comoros
Madagascar vs. Uganda
Mauritania vs. E. Guinea
Namibia vs. Congo
Libya vs. Rwanda
Burundi vs. Botswana
Swaziland vs. Sierra Leone
Tanzania vs. Zimbabwe
Malawi vs. Chad
Sao Tome Principe vs. Benin
Gambia vs. Seychelles
Swaziland vs. Sierra Leone
Mozambique vs. South Sudan

Group A: Nigeria, Sudan, South Africa, winner of Namibia/Congo/Libya/Rwanda.
Group B: Mali, Ethiopia, Algeria, winner of SaoTome/Benin/Malawi/Chad.
Group C: Burkina Faso, Gabon, Angola, winner of Liberia/Lesotho/Kenya/Comoros
Group D: Cote d’Ivoire, DRC, Cameroon, winner of Swaziland/SierraLeone/Gambia/Seychelles
Group E: Ghana, Guinea, Togo, winner of Madagascar/Uganda/Mauritania/EqGuinea
Group F: Zambia, Niger, Cape Verde, winner of Tanzania/Zimbabwe/Mozambique/South Sudan
Group G: Tunisia, Senegal, Egypt, winner of Burundi/Botswana/CAR/Guinea Bissau