Uganda begins its 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifying campaign in the week ahead.
The Cranes will play two qualifiers in quick succession under the stewardship of Johnathan McKinstry.
It all starts midweek with a match away to Burkina Faso in Ouagadougou before Malawi’s Flames check into the cauldron that is Mandela National Stadium over the weekend.
Incidentally, a monkey was shrugged off the back the last time Uganda faced Burkina Faso’s Stallions in an Afcon qualifying campaign.
The Cranes snapped an Afcon hoodoo spanning nearly four decades. They also came close to beating Burkina Faso to top position in the qualifying group
Failure to unseat the Stallions from the summit meant that Uganda only qualified for Afcon 2017 in Gabon as one of the best second-placed teams.
It was a backdoor ticket, but did little to dim the joy unconfined of Cranes fans. How could it!
A lot of water has since flowed under the bridge. The Cranes affirmed their status as one of dark horses on the continent. They achieved this by comfortably winning a qualifying group that had Cape Verde’s Blue Sharks as top seeds.
While many Cranes faithful went to Afcon 2019 with the idea of success variously defined, Uganda surprised itself by beating Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe to second place in a tough group that also included hosts Egypt.
All of this means that Uganda will be expected to make it out of a qualifying group that has Burkina Faso, Malawi and South Sudan.
While this is hardly a group of death, it will be imperative that the Cranes guard against complacency. Threats real and imagined cannot be dismissed out of hand.
McKinstry will want for his charges to assert themselves from the outset, and that if along the way they tumble, it shouldn’t be for want of trying.
What we now know....
We know that all rounder Brian Masaba was recently handed the captaincy reins for Uganda’s senior men cricket team, the Cricket Cranes.
We also know that for the vast majority Masaba fell on lean times as the Cricket Cranes toured Zimbabwe this past week.
But it is early days yet to pass judgment. This we know for sure. It is widely hoped that Masaba will scale heights Davis Karashani reached with the Cricket Cranes captaincy. This column extends its best wishes to him.
Vice captain Hassan Wasswa is rallying his teammates against buying into talk their qualifying group is one of the easiest.Uganda are pooled in Group B alongside Burkina Faso, Malawi and South Sudan, with the Cranes first assignment away to Ouagadougou the coming Wednesday.