Kampala. Cranes coach Sebastien Desabre admits Uganda could not have landed a tougher group for the 2019 Total Africa Cup of Nations that kicks off June 21 through July 19 in Egypt. Uganda will be based in Cairo and not Ismailia - Desabre’s earlier wish, and in the Egyptian capital the seven-time Afcon finalists come up against the hosts, DR. Congo, and Zimbabwe in Group A as per last Friday’s draws. You can call it mind games but speaking to media after the draws at the Pyramids of Giza in Cairo, Desabre seems to have decided on who to pick mental fights with.
“Zimbabwe was the least lucky team of the group but I know their squad and their great qualities,” said Desabre, who qualified a country in his first national team assignment.
“The group is complicated even though Egypt is the favourite to top it and our team will compete for the second place spot,” the Frenchman is further quoted by Goal.
“Facing the Egyptian team represents an obstacle although we have prior advantage since we are familiar with their team and previous encounters were difficult yet close with not much difference separating the two teams. “Everyone knows that we have an up and coming generation of players that no one should underestimate and it’s going to be a difficult for anyone to defeat us.”
The Cranes beat the Pharoahs 1-0 in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers in Kampala and lost by a similar margin in Egypt.
The two teams also faced off in Gabon Afcon 2017, which tie Egypt won it 1-0. To understand Desabre’s high rating of Egypt, who have Premier League and Liverpool superstar Mohamed Salah in their ranks, you have to look their Afcon record with Uganda.
Actually, Uganda have faced Egypt four times at the finals and have lost all. That is a statistic the Frenchman and his boys will want to change.
Yet, the whole group is littered with quality teams, with Zimbabwe qualifying as leaders of the same group that had DR Congo.
“We know Congo very well and their players are special with regard to individual skills,” noted Desabre.
“We are facing opponents with high quality and we need to have good preparations for the finals taking into consideration the opponents we are going to face.”
Uganda open their Afcon finals campaign against DR Congo on June 22 before facing Zimbabwe four days later and wrapping against hosts Egypt on 30th. Uganda’s progress at the finals will be benchmarked at advancing from the group stage.
June 22: Uganda vs. DR Congo, Cairo
June 26: Uganda vs. Zimbabwe, Cairo
June 30: Egypt vs. Uganda, Cairo
GROUP STAGE DRAW
A: Egypt (Hosts), DR Congo, Uganda, Zimbabwe
B: Nigeria, Guinea, Madagascar, Burundi
C: Senegal, Algeria, Kenya, Tanzania
D: Morocco, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Namibia
E: Tunisia, Mali, Mauritania, Angola
F: Cameroon, Ghana, Benin, Guinea-Bissau