Silverbacks face Mali in WC qualifiers

The Silverbacks at the OR Tambo International Airport, South Africa yesterday before connecting to Angola.  Photo / Courtsey. 

What you need to know:

  • The federation sent out a communication on Tuesday that the team had pulled out of the qualifiers due to lack of funds for the trip but later alerted the players that the trip was back on after a meeting with sports ministry Denis Hamson Obua.

The Silverbacks will have no time to digest the fact that they were out of the tournament for a few hours and back in it after Fuba managed to secure funds for the first round of the World Cup Qualifiers.

The federation sent out a communication on Tuesday that the team had pulled out of the qualifiers due to lack of funds for the trip but later alerted the players that the trip was back on after a meeting with sports ministry Denis Hamson Obua.

The team left Entebbe Thursday morning, through O.R Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg, Luanda, and finally Benguela in the west of Angola.
Four players joined the team from Germany, Canada, USA and Spain.

It is business time now and the Silverbacks need to, at least, win a game from three to progress to the next round of qualifiers.
Mali is the first to face the Silverbacks today before Cape Verde and Nigeria come tomorrow and Sunday respectively.

Confidence is high in the Silverbacks camp despite only arriving in Benguela hours to their opening game.
“We believe we have a chance of progressing to the next round,” coach Mandy Juruni told Daily Monitor before the team left for Angola.

Uganda will be hoping to build
 on their recent Afrobasket exploits in Kigali, Rwanda where they finished sixth.

They defeated powerhouse Nigeria at the continental showpiece and will be looking at making it two in two when the two sides face off on Sunday.
Cape Verde is also also one of the teams beaten by the Silverbacks in the qualifiers to Afrobasket.

Several missing faces
With Ishmail wainwright, Adam Seiko, Arthur Kaluma and Deng Geu all missing this tournament, the Silverbacks are without four of their starters. Kieran Zziwa is also out of the team.

Players such as Tonny Drileba, Robinson Odoch Opong, Eric Rwahwire and James Okello, who played a big role off the bench at Afrobasket, will now be tasked with much bigger roles.

Barcelona’s Brandon Davies is in the team and his presence in the paint and shooting range will come in handy.
There are four debutants on the team who will all be looking to impress.

Germany based Timothy Emmanuel Womala, Fayed Baale, Ivan Muhwezi and Peter Obleng will all be hoping for a first opportunity to wear the Ugandan colours.  Abdihakim Ghedi is the other who will be hoping for some minutes on the floor having made the trip to Morocco but got no time on court.

No pressure on Juruni 
Head Coach George Galanopoulos has led the Silverbacks in the last few campaigns but is unavailable because of his busy schedule with the Texas Legends in the G League.

In his absence,  Juruni and Andrew Tendo are charged with getting results in the first window and ensuring there is a second round for Uganda next year.
Juruni, from whom Galanopoulos took over, is confident the task at hand is one he can handle.
“There is nothing to prove. I have been in this bussiness for a long time.” he told this paper ahead of the tournament.

How to qualify
From Angola, the Silverbacks must finish among the top three teams in group A to have any chance of playing in the second round slated for next year.
After the first phase, three teams from each of the four groups will progress to the next stage while the last are automatically eliminated.
Two groups, E and F will be made after the first group stage to accommodate the qualified 12 teams.

Each group will comprise six teams.
Teams from groups A and C will form group E after the first round while groups B and D enter into group F.
At that stage, teams only play opponents that were not in the same group in the first round and also carry their previous records into the final round.
In the end, the two teams that top groups E and F and the best placed third team qualify to the World Cup.

The squad
Jimmy Enabu, Tonny Drilleba, Ivan Muhwezi, Fayed Bbale, Peter Obleng, Titus Odeke, James Okello, Abdihakim Ghedi, Ben Komakech, Brandon Davies, Eric Rwahwire Timothy Emmanuel Womala, Robinson Opong Odoch.

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