The national team assignments are coming in thick for forwards Margaret Kunihira, Juliet Nalukenge, Fauzia Najjemba, defender Stella Musibika and goalkeeper Daphine Nyayenga.
The five are central to coach Ayub Khalifan’s plans with the U-17 team that not only won the Cecafa and Cosafa tournaments in Njeru and Mauritius last year but also beat Ethiopia 2-0 on Saturday in Africa’s Fifa Women U-17 World Cup qualifiers.
Their form is quite irresistible that Crested Cranes coach Faridah Bulega, summoned them for the unsuccessful Cecafa Women Cup campaign in November.
Now coach Olive Mbekeka is likely to make them central to her plans to qualify for the Fifa Women U-20 World Cup, due in August in Costa Rica and Panama, after summoning them last week.
Najjemba, Kunihira and Nalukenge join a forward-line that has the exciting Lillian Mutuuzo, hard-running Norah Alupo and towering Favour Nambatya as the other options.
“The truth is the players that were summoned are very much needed in the U-20 team too,” Khalifan said in the aftermath of their win over Ethiopia.
The five returned to Fufa Technical Centre - Njeru, where they joined about 20 others for preparations of the first leg of the first round qualifier against Tanzania that is due this Saturday in Dar-es-Salaam.
“But yes, it (summoning them for another assignment) affects our preparations for the second leg (against Ethiopia in Addis Ababa.
The U-20 game means they might be involved in endurance training to cope with that match while our plan (as the U-17 team) was to switch into recovery mode for the next days,” he explained.
Fortunately for Khalifan and the country, the U-20 coach Mbekeka, is also the fitness trainer for both Crested Cranes and the U-17 side and will likely have an idea about the physical requirements of such players.
“We have a very healthy working relationship with coach Mbekeka and I am sure that if our schedules allow, I will even be in her camp to help out,” he added.
What we cannot tell for now is what kind of impact playing four games - including two away in Tanzania and Ethiopia - over four weekends will have on the five players and Uganda’s chances of progressing in both qualifiers.
Goalkeepers: Daphine Nyayenga (Uganda Martyrs HS), Juliet Adeke (Kawempe Muslim), Else Najjemba (St. Noa SS), Zaharah Nankya (Makerere University).
Defenders: Shadia Nankya (UCU Lady Cardinals), Stella Musibika, Asia Nakibuuka, Grace Aluka, Mariam Nakabugo (Kawempe Muslim), Fatuma Nakasumba, Aisha Namukisa (Kampala Queens), Elizabeth Nakigozi (Muteesa II Royal Univ), Eunice Ariokot (Olila HS)
Midfielders: Phiona Nabbumba (She Corporate), Teddy Najjuma (UCU), Sharon Naddunga, Anita Namata, Shamirah Nalugya (Kawempe), Zaina Namuleme (Kampala Queens), Aisha Nantongo (St. Noa), Moureen Afoyo (Ajax Queens), Shakira Mutiibwa, Joan Nabirye (Asubo-Gafford)
Forwards: Fauzia Najjemba, Lillian Mutuuzo (Kampala Queens), Norah Alupo (Saviors), Juliet Nalukenge, Margaret Kunihira (Kawempe Muslim), Favour Nambatya (She Corporate)
Head coach: Olive Mbekeka, Assistant head coach: Christine Wanyana, Goalkeeper coach: Ibrahim Mugisha,
Team doctor: Mable Kabatalindwa, Equipment manager: Prossy Nalwadda
Team coordinator: Paul Mukatabala