KAMPALA. It Sebastien Desabre, the Cranes French coach, will try to use all the knowledge he has on Egypt to get something out of their Africa Cup of Nations group match on June 30 in Cairo.
Uganda – who are making a second successive appearance at the finals -, are pooled alongside the seven-time champions, Egypt; two-time winners DRC, and rising stars Zimbabwe in Group A.
It is no easy group, to be honest. But Uganda, hoping to progress from the group in this first-time 24-team tournament, strongly believe they can upset odds.
Skipper and goalkeeper Denis Onyango and Faruku Miya are Uganda’s headline names, while DRC’s Cedric Bakambu and Khama Billiat of Zimbabwe are the other superstars of the pool.
But from England, to Europe and back to Africa, it is Egyptian Mohamed Salah who is turning heads everywhere.
It is that little genius, that Uefa Champions League winner with Liverpool and English Premier League top scorer with 22 goals that carries most of Egypt’s hopes and threat to opponents.
And having scored Egypt’s winner the last time Uganda visited North in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, Desabre – despite not being in charge at the time - knows too well one of the main threats to Cranes ambitions in Cairo.
And the man who boasts of knowledge about Egypt football having coached the country’s top division side Ismaily believes they have a plan.
I know Egypt
“I know the Egyptian team well,” Desabre told an Egyptian online publication Kingfut, “Especially Mohamed Salah,” he added.
“He is one of the players with wonderful individual skills and has the ability to be ranked among the best players in the world at the moment. We will have a plan to stop him in our match together.
“Playing against Egypt is a very wonderful moment because it is the host country and the presence of the fans is great in their game.
“They will place strong pressure on them, and we will try to snatch the points in the first two matches before the last match against them.”
The Cranes start their campaign against DRC June 22, then face Zimbabwe four days later before wrapping the group action against Egypt.
“I know Egypt well and the atmosphere there, I worked before in Ismaily and this will give me a chance to adapt,” added Desabre.
Desabre took charge of Ismaily in 2017 and led them to 13 wins in 18 games, just losing just one game. He left for Uganda just after three months.
“We camped in Egypt recently in order to give the players an opportunity to know the atmosphere,” he concluded.
The Cranes are currently camping in Abu Dhabi, where they will play Turkmenistan and Ivory Coast in friendlies before arriving in Egypt on June 17. Custodian Onyango is Cranes’ skipper.
2019 TOTAL AFRICA CUP OF NATIONS
Cranes Afcon fixtures
June 22: Uganda vs. DR Congo,
June 26: Uganda vs. Zimbabwe,
June 30: Egypt vs. Uganda,
UAE camp (May 27-June 17)
June 9: Cranes vs. Turkmenistan
June 25: Cranes vs. Ivory Coast