KAMPALA- Uganda’s U-17 Girls team is determined to play on the front foot when they host Ethiopia tomorrow in the first leg of the first round of Africa’s Fifa U-17 World Cup qualifiers at Star Times Stadium -Lugogo.
Coach Ayub Khalifan admits there might be “a clash of styles” with the Ethiopians, whose senior teams are advocates for possessive and expansive football.
“Going by how their senior national team has played us in the last three years, you get the sense that their U-17 team also loves to have the ball and control matches,” Khalifan said.
Uganda was Ethiopia’s first opponent on the international scene in September 2002.
The latter coming off as 2-0 winners in Addis Ababa in the Africa Women’s Nations Cup (AWCON) qualifiers.
Uganda’s national team that had been active since 1998 then suffered issues of consistency while Ethiopia built theirs to-date with a style of play that is pleasing to the eye.
Khalifan has pushed for the same style with his U-17 girls even though the senior team Crested Cranes, that was revived in 2016, are a largely pragmatic side. “See the difference is that Ethiopia has been consistently playing (since 2002) so they have had a longer time to preach the same style of football in their youth teams. For us, this is just the beginning,” Khalifan explained.
That, however, will not deter his side from taking initiative.
In Shakira Nyinagahirwa and Kevin Nakacwa, Uganda have quick passing midfielders they can rely on to enforce their idea that starts with building play from the back.
Upfront the decisiveness of striker and captain Juliet Nalukenge, the speed and industry of Fauzia Najjemba and the trickery of Margaret Kunihira and Catherine Nagadya all lend credence to this proactive style of football.
“What we have to do is do everything faster and also rely on individual brilliance to pull us through,” Khalifan emphasized.
FIFA U-17 GIRLS WORLD CUP Q
Tomorrow at Lugogo, 4pm
Uganda vs. Ethiopia