Olila High School’s versatile player Bira Nadunga returned to the Uganda’s camp yesterday ahead of their Friday trip to Tanzania for a Fifa Women U-17 World Cup qualifier due this weekend.
The rivals clash in the first leg of the first round in Dar-es-Salaam this Sunday having respectively eliminated Ethiopia and Burundi in last month’s preliminary qualification round of the World Cup that is slated for November in India.
Nadunga plays as a forward for her club but has established an unbeatable centre-back partnership with Kawempe Muslim SS’s Stella Musibika – also a striker in her formative years.
The two, who partnered when Uganda won the Cecafa U-17 Women Cup in Njeru last December, could have come in handy as they have some experience about handling the Tanzania forwards that they largely kept at bay in a 1-1 draw then.
Such is their latest influence on the women’s game that even U-20 coach Oliver Mbekeka turned to them to save her side from the jaws of defeat after she lost the first leg of that preliminary World Cup qualifier 2-1 to Tanzania last month.
The plan backfired but the two can hardly be put to blame as Tanzania matched their home result at Lugogo to eliminate Uganda 4-2 from the U-20 World Cup that is slated for August in Panama and Costa Rica.
With the amount of games coming in thick, U-17 coach Ayub Khalifan will do without Musibika, who is out with a foot injury.
Fortunately for him, Nadunga, who had reportedly kept away from camp to concentrate on her studies alongside her teammate Gillian Akadinda, is back after some pushing from Fufa. Akadinda returned too but with an injury.
“We will definitely get Bira back in but we are still working around the clock on the other options,” Khalifan said as he must also find a replacement for the injured midfield anchor Kevin Nakacwa.
From the look of things, Gloria Namugerwa might partner Bira ahead of Patricia Akiror but Khalifan is also counting on switching Grace Aluka from left-back to the centre.
Meanwhile winger Catherine Nagadya has already been nailed down as midfield anchor as Khalifan continues to stress the need for versatility among youth players.