KAMPALA. Crested Cranes coach Farida Bulega, hopes US-based stars Sandra Nabweteme and Yudaya Nakayenze can kick on after a tame training session on Friday.
The duo that jetted in on Thursday is part of a 30-man squad tasked with overcoming Ethiopia in round one of the Caf Women’s Olympic Qualifiers due April 3 and April 6 in Addis Ababa and Lugogo respectively. African giants Cameroon wait for the winner in round two.
“In terms of game interpretation, Sandra is evidently way ahead of the rest,” Bulega said.
“There are times she would play in some of her teammates yet they expected her to shoot. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of time to get everyone at her wavelength so we are encouraging her to take her chances as they come,” Bulega shared.
Nabweteme is no stranger to this game. She used to play for four-time Fufa Women Elite League (FWEL) champions Kawempe Muslim, before moving to Southwestern Oklahoma University (SWOSU) in 2016.
She excited Ugandans, alongside Hasifah Nassuna (now at Uganda Christian University) in the first two FWEL seasons scoring 40 goals (between mid-2014 to mid-2016) as Kawempe won two consecutive titles.
Nassuna, who as at times been deployed as an attacking midfielder, has gone on to more than double Nabweteme’s FWEL haul with ‘82 goals and counting’.
Bulega will be licking her lips at the chance of revisiting that double-act – after all this frees up central attacking midfield roles for Fauziah Najjemba, Shamira Nalujja and Anita Namata.
Suffice to note that Juliet Nalukenge, Zaina Namuleme, Resty Nanziri and Lilian Mutuuzo are also exciting forward options, with the rich reputation of carrying Uganda to silver and bronze at last year’s Cecafa and Cosafa Championships respectively.
While the prospects of the attack looked potent, Bulega was more concerned with her defence, where Nakayenze – expected to renew the Cecafa partnership with Shadia Nankya at the expense of Aisha Namukisa – looked every bit jaded.
“Yudaya had some jet-lag issues but we are confident she will be fine by the time we leave,” Bulega, who hopes to leave for Addis Ababa latest tomorrow for Wednesday’s first leg, shared.
Nakayenze, who missed Cosafa in September 2018 after moving to Seminole College – USA, comes in with a bit of history as she scored the winner from a setpiece when Uganda beat Ethiopia 2-1 in Kigali during Cecafa (June 2018).
Crested Cranes showed mettle in that tournament recovering from a 4-1 drubbing to Ethiopia at Cecafa 2016.
By the way, Bulega’s teams heavily rely on setpieces. Fortunately, for her that’s another area in which Nabweteme’s ingenuity comes in handy.
Deadly. Bulega will be keen to revisit the double-act of Nassuna and Nabweteme, a duo with more more than a combined 120 goals in the local topflight league