Johnny McKinstry’s first competitive Uganda Cranes squad was always going to be contentious.
This was true at Fufa House yesterday as he named his 25-man squad to face Burkina Faso and Malawi in the 2021 Afcon qualifiers.
Of the 25, only five ply their trade domestically. No surprises in that because on average, it’s the best in the local league that move abroad.
But it is the omission of midfielder Allan Kateregga and goalkeeper Salim Jamal – two of the players reported to have been vocal in the team strike in Cairo in July - that will not go without some explanations. The Northern Irishman, McKinstry, offered it, albeit steering clear of any talk related to the said strike in Egypt. “I have talked to them all and told them they will help the team in future,” he said.
“Being a backup goalkeeper (like Sudan-based Jamal, who has also been cheekily jabbing Fufa on social media) is frustrating because you fly around the world but you don’t get to play. “I don’t want three foreign based goalkeepers on my team and that will henceforth be the norm. Two foreign based and one local based,” he expounded.
McKinstry admitted he hadn’t got enough time to ring the desired changes, which explains why a big percentage of the players he summoned have are the same used by predecessor Sebastien Desabre. “Our preparation time is remarkably short because I will only get time to work with the full squad on Tuesday when we play the following day (against Burkina Faso).
“If I was to make significant changes it wouldn’t be possible with the time available,” added McKin
He says for now he will ride on the players’ experience of playing together to get victory in the matches against Burkina Faso and Malawi.
Local players challenged
Explaining why only five players from the local league had been called, on top of dropping Krizestom Ntambi and Allan Kayiwa l, who played in the recent Ethiopian friendly, the coach highlighted the gulf in class.
“There is a gap between the UPL players and the foreign based and when we see what they can offer and the others cannot, then we summon them,” said McKinstry.
“I could have called more than five but at the moment I will work with those five (Charles Lukwago, Fahad Bayo, Nicholas Kasozi, Halid Lwaliwa and Allan Okello).”
The Cranes preparations start on November 9 when they play Northern Region in the regional tours.
SUMMONED CRANES SQUAD
Dennis Onyango (Mamelodi Sundowns,
South Africa), Robert Odongkara (Horoya AC, Guinea), Charles Lukwago (KCCA, Uganda)
Ronald Mukiibi (Ostersunds FK, Sweden), Nico Wakiro Wadada (Azam, Tanzania), Bevis Mugabi (Motherwell, Scotland), Murushid Jjuuko (Wydad Casablanca, Morocco), Timothy Denis Awany (Sport Club Ironi Ashdod, Israel), Hassan Wasswa Mawanda (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia), Halid Lwaliwa (Vipers, Uganda), Isaac Muleme (Viktoria Zizkov, Czech Republic), Joseph Ochaya (TP Mazembe, DR Congo)
Michael Azira (Chicago Fire, USA), Khalid Aucho (Misr Lel Makasa, Egypt), Tadeo Lwanga (Tanta, Egypt), Nicholas Kasozi (KCCA, Uganda), Allan Okello (KCCA, Uganda), Allan Kyambadde (El Gouna, Egypt)
Emmanuel Arnold Okwi (Ittihad Alexandria, Egypt), Patrick Henry Kaddu (RS Berkane, Morocco), Alexis Bbakka (Carlstad United BK, Sweden), Fahad Bayo (Vipers, Uganda), Farouk Miya (Konyaspor, Turkey), Abdu Lumala (Pyramids, Egypt), William Kizito Luwagga (Shakhter Karagandy, Kazahstan)
AFRICA CUP OF NATIONS
Cameroon 2021 Qualifiers
November 13, Ouagadougou
Burkina Faso vs. Uganda, 10pm
November 17, Namboole
Uganda vs. Malawi, 4pm
Shs20,000 (ordinary), Shs50,000
(VIP) and Shs120,00 (VVIP)
Head Coach: Jonathan McKinstry
1st Assistant Coach: Abdallah Mubiru
2nd Assistant Coach: Livingstone Mbabazi
Fitness Coach: Alexander McCarthy
Goalkeeping Coach: Fred Kajoba
Equipment Manager: Ayub Balyejusa
Team Coordinator: Geoffrey Massa