Change of dates no problem as Cranes ready for extreme spell

Friday January 24 2020
soc4 pic

Coach McKinstry and his assistant Abdallah Mubiru (R) have their work cut out in Cranes bid to qualify. PHOTO by EDDIE CHICCO

Cranes coach Johnny McKinstry believes change of qualifying dates for Afcon 2021 and 2022 World Cup should not have any adverse effect on Uganda’s preparations.
The dates were moved after Caf’s decision to bring forward the 2021 Nations Cup finals in Cameroon from June-July to January-February because of unfavourable weather conditions (extremely wet) in the host country – Cameroon – during mid-year.
As such, Afcon 2021 qualifiers that had been due to resume in August will now be played in March, June and August/September, with auditions for the 2022 World Cup moved to October.
“Ultimately,” McKinstry, whose team drew Kenya, Rwanda and Mali in the 2022 World Cup qualifying draws this week, told Daily Monitor, “It doesn’t have much of an impact really, because we always knew when the Fifa windows were.
“Previously we had anticipated we would be having World Cup qualifiers in March and June, with the Afcon games resuming in September, so we were expecting competitive games.

Starting preparations
“Now with Afcon games being brought forward, this means that as soon as that happened, we were able to start preparing for South Sudan games; in terms of various analyses - their strengths and weaknesses.”
The Northern Irishman, 34, added: “So really if anything it has allowed us to get going in terms of our in-depth preparation a little bit earlier for those March games than we would have been earlier.
“Overall, in the early part of the year we had already started putting together schedules and rough plans. We not only have games in March but after that we have Chan in Cameroon.
“So, March and April are going to be extremely busy months. In fact during March there will be a period when our Chan team and senior team are in camp at the same time during the Fifa week.
“So making sure all the arrangements and logistics are done effectively will help players to focus on the football because there will not be any hiccups.”

Cranes set early pace
Uganda top Group B (four points) on goal difference alongside Burkina Faso, with Malawi and South Sudan completing this pool in the road to Cameroon 2021.
The 2021 Afcon finals will start on January 9 and end February 6. The 2019 tournament in Egypt was the first one to be held mid-year after Caf had changed it from January/February, and from odd to even years, to avoid collision with the World Cup and European football domestic season.