Monday night’s draws of the 2020 African Nations Championship (Chan) threw Uganda against the defending champions, an interesting regional neighbour and a West African somebody.
An interesting group (C), Cranes coach Johnny McKinstry called it; one Uganda must progress from - for the first time in five attempts - if they are to register any evolvement since they first qualified in the tournament’s second edition in 2009.
Defending champions Morocco, Rwanda - who are also drawn against Uganda in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, and Togo are the clogs in Uganda’s way in Group C, with the top two progressing to the knockout stage.
“Our overall ambition is we’ve got to get out of the group stages,” admitted the 34-year-old Northern Irishman.
“But yet, for whatever reason, the Cranes have not progressed past the first round of the Chan tournament.
“That is the question we need to answer. We want to get to the quarterfinals because in knockout football, anything can happen, really. Obviously we are in the group of the champions, Morocco. However, that game is last, up.”
Uganda open their campaign in Cameroon against Rwanda, then Togo before wrapping up against Morocco. “So who knows? We might play the reigning champions in a game when we’ve already qualified,” McKinstry told Daily Monitor. “And then fate seems to be drawing us together with Rwanda at every point in time. Again a lot of those players I know very well. A number of that current Rwanda team I gave their debuts to.
“So as an opening game, Uganda versus Rwanda, an East African derby, both teams will know how much that game means.
“If either team can win that game, and we will be doing everything we can to start with three points, then that puts you into a really good position going into the second game with Togo. “We’ve already sent out fillers to our contacts in West Africa to get copies of all the Togo videos from the Wafu Cup and their qualification campaign. But this is their first Chan tournament, and we want to make sure we take advantage of that little bit of inexperience from them. “If we can take points against Rwanda and Togo in those opening games, we should put ourselves in a good position.” The Cranes start training on March 2, with McKinstry expecting some friendlies before Uganda arrive in Cameroon for April’s only home-based players tournament.
2020 Chan groups
A: Cameroon, Mali, B. Faso, Zimbabwe
B: Libya, DR Congo, Congo, Niger
C: Morocco, Rwanda, Togo, Uganda
D: Zambia, Guinea, Namibia, Tanzania