Cranes the misfits in exclusive club

Uganda Cranes midfielder Marvin Youngman in a game against Buganda Select in Mityana. PHOTO/JOHN BATANUDDE 

What you need to know:

Should both Uganda and DRC advance over the two legs, they will be in their own league as the nations with most appearances at the finals.

Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will become the only countries to qualify for the Africa Nations Championship (Chan) six times if they take care of their business this and next weekend.

The two neighbours have each qualified for all but one edition since the home-based players tournament was inaugurated in 2009. 

Zimbabwe would have been the other having qualified for five already too, but the Warriors are out of Algeria Chan 2023 running because their country is serving a Fifa ban.

DRC are in Chad tomorrow for their first leg before the return next weekend, while Uganda begin their quest to Algeria at the National Stadium in Dar Salaam before hosting Tanzania at St Mary’s, Kitende next Saturday.

Should both Uganda and DRC advance over the two legs, they will be in their own league as the nations with most appearances at the finals.

And currently at five appearances each, with Zimbabwe the only other such nation, it is already an exclusive club. 

But one thing strikingly stands out. That is where the association stops. While Uganda are part of this private company, the Cranes have nothing to show for it at the tournament.

Of course Zimbabwe also have no title for it, but their one-time fourth place finish earned them more money and exposure as semifinalists in 2014. 

On their part, DRC - alongside defending champions Morocco, are the most successful countries at Chan having each won it two times. Actually, the lowest DRC have ever finished is quarterfinals.

Enter Uganda and the Cranes are still struggling to emerge from the group stage, where they have been stuck since making their bow in 2009, then under the tutelage of Scotsman Bobby Williamson.

Micho then took over in time for South Africa 2014, where a one Yunus Sentamu was introduced to the world, with Uganda playing some of the most promising football. But even that did not get them out of the group.

The Serbian coach was to again lead Uganda to Rwanda 2016. Again, the Cranes choked in the group. 

Morocco 2018 under French coach Sebastien Desabre was no different, so was Cameroon 2020 (held in 2021) with Northern Irishman Johnny Mckinstry.

Micho’s task has never been clearer. First, buy more time in his job by successfully dealing with the Tanzanian threat in Chan before facing the same side in Afcon 2023/24 qualifiers next March.

Once that is done, the Serb - who remains a legend in Uganda having helped the country end a four-decade absence from Afcon finals with Gabon 2017 appearance, can embark on making the sixth Chan appearance count, or they will only remain the exclusive club’s misfits.

Chan 2023 Algeria qualifiers

Sunday, August 28

Tanzania vs Uganda

Saturday, September 3

Uganda vs Tanzania 

Only teams to qualify for chan five times (2009-2020 editions)

DRC - Twice champions, thrice quarterfinalists 

Zimbabwe - One-time semifinalists, four times in group stage 

Uganda - Finished in the group stage on all five occasions


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