Cranes’ quest for a record 15th Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup title resumes this evening starting with a game against Burundi when the tournament officially kicks-off at Startimes stadium Lugogo Africa’s oldest tournament, dogged by administrative challenges, has been held in odd years since 2013 with few countries willing to host and Uganda falling at the semifinal stage in Kenya the last time it was held in 2017.
This year’s tournament has been dominated by news of Rwanda, Ethiopia, South Sudan and guest team DR Congo pulling out.
The host country meanwhile only confirmed Namboole and Lugogo as host venues on Thursday after previously indicating the tournament would be staged in Jinja.
When the action eventually gets underway, anything less than Cranes winning the title will be regarded as failure for Johnathan McKinstry and his charges.
Uganda’s haul of 14 titles at the regional tournament is twice as big as that of nearest challengers and reigning champions Kenya who stand at seven.
Only KCCA midfielder Muzamir Mutyaba is likely to remain from the squad that lost 2-1 to Zanzibar in the 2017 semifinals.
His club-mates Allan Okello, Mustafa Kizza and Charles Lukwago are expected to form the core of the team McKinstry puts out starting this evening against Burundi.
Vipers front-man Fahad Bayo will also be looking to enhance his reputation having scored on his senior Cranes debut against Malawi last month.
But Burundi will not be pushovers with the two nations playing out a goalless draw in the opening group game of 2017.
This year they have Eritrea, Somalia and Djibouti for company with the top two nations qualifying for the semifinals.
Reigning champions Kenya are in group B alongside Tanzania, Sudan and Zanzibar in what on paper appears the harder group to negotiate.