KAMPALA- Tonight is the first of two pivotal nights a good number of Uganda Cranes players will put their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations hopes on the test.
This is the night fairly new boys like Alexis Bakka, Abdu Lumala, Afcon first time hopefuls Allan Kateregga, Bevis Mugabi, Derrick Nsibambi and Allan Kyambadde among others, will be looking to with big dreams playing in their minds.
Senior but unattached players like Godfrey Walusimbi and Hassan Wasswa, who have been direly starved of competitive football this year will, too, be looking to this game against Turkmenistan at New York University in Abu Dhabi to see if all the hard work they have been putting is manifesting in match action.
The Central Asian country of Turkmenistan might be a woeful 156th in Fifa ranking, 77 places worse off Uganda, but it is the much needed match action you cannot discredit as the Cranes fine-tune for Afcon finals in Egypt from June 21 to July 19.And Cranes coach Sebastien Desabre is challenging his 27-man squad, camped in Abu Dhabi since May 27, to use this friendly and final one against Ivory Coast to make his work easy in determining the final team to Egypt.
“Give me every reason to pick you in the final squad,” the Frenchman dared his boys, “The mind and body of each player in camp must remain focused to make my work very easy when selecting the final 23-man squad next week.”
The Cranes are expected to arrive in Cairo on June 17, two days after playing Ivory Coast. Uganda will open their second successive Afcon campaign against DRC on June 22, then face Zimbabwe four days later and wrap Group A against hosts Egypt on June 30. Elsewhere, Uganda’s Fifa assistant referee Mark Ssonko is among the 56 officials confirmed by Caf to officiate at the Nations Cup. Of these, 30 are assistants and the others center referees.
CRANES AFCON FIXTURES
June 22: Uganda vs DR Congo, Cairo
June 26: Uganda vs Zimbabwe, Cairo
June 30: Egypt vs Uganda, Cairo
2019 TOTAL AFCON (Abu Dhabi)
Tonight: Uganda Cranes vs Turkmenistan,
10pm, New York University
June 15: Uganda vs Ivory Coast, Sheikh Zayed Stadium