Hopeful Mbekeka raids Tanzania

Sunday January 19 2020

Some of the U21 team players pose for a photo

Some of the U21 team players pose for a photo after Thursday’s training session at the Njeru Technical centre, Njeru. Uganda will play Tanzania today at before the return leg on February 1, 2020 at StarTimes stadium in Lugogo. PHOTO COURTSEY OF FUFA. 

By Makhtum Muziransa

Uganda get their Fifa Women U-20 World Cup qualification campaign underway today against neighbours Tanzania in Dar-es-Salaam.
From the Cecafa Senior Cup and U-17 tournaments held late last year, Uganda are sure to find a physically imposing opponent especially if, like coach Olive Mbekeka has done, Tanzania are picking their U-20 squad from both senior and U-17 teams.
Mbekeka has named six; Joan Namusisi, Bira Nadunga, Stella Musibika, Margaret Kunihira, Fauzia Najjemba and captain Juliet Nalukenge from the U-17 side that beat Ethiopia 2-0 at home in the first leg of the first round of the U-17 Fifa World Cup qualifiers last weekend.
The rest of the squad are from the tried and tested Crested Cranes set-up except new entrant Teddy Najjuma and Anita Namata, who had hitherto never made it to a final selection.
Towering defender Shadia Nankya was named captain and will be assisted by midfield enforcer Shakira Mutiibwa and goalkeeper Juliet Adeke.
“We know how physically strong and fast Tanzania can be so we will not be countering them on that front,” Mbekeka told Sunday Monitor referring to notes from the U-17s 1-1 draw with their rivals en route to winning the Cecafa competition held in Njeru last December and previous encounters that Crested Cranes has lost to the Twiga Stars in the past three years.
Instead Mbekeka, who has served as fitness coach for Faridah Bulega’s Crested Cranes and Ayub Khalifan’s U-17s, will adopt the latter’s free-flowing expansive and possession-based game.
“We want to return home with a healthy advantage. We want to score goals and the best way we can do that is allowing our players who are technically superior to the Tanzanians to express themselves.”
The winner of this two-legged tie plays either Senegal or Sierra Leone in the next round as a host of African teams battle for two spots at the next U-20 World Cup due August in Panama and Costa Rica.