What you need to know:
- The Omicron variant that is on a global tour has forced UCA’s hand not only logistically but technically too.
President Museveni might have eased restrictions on sports activities but the national teams are feeling the pinch.
The Cranes last week had to call off their planned friendlies with Gabon and Mauritania in the UAE because the host country has stopped incoming flights from Uganda.
This publication understands the national boys’ under-19 cricket team, the Baby Cricket Cranes, were affected too.
The team was slated to depart for Dubai yesterday then connect to Trinidad & Tobago for their third appearance at the ICC Under-19 World Cup.
But UAE’s suspension of flights from Entebbe meant they had to change route and travel a day earlier, flying through Dutch city of Amsterdam for an 11-hour connection to the West Indies then face mandatory three-day quarantine.
It is after the health screening that the team will travel to Guyana.
“ICC got us an alternative route to West Indies via Amsterdam,” Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) chief executive Martin Ondeko told this reporter.
The Omicron variant that is on a global tour has forced UCA’s hand not only logistically but technically too.
Coach Ivan Thawithemwira and his assistant Robinson Turinawe had initially kept the 14 players who won the regional qualifier in Rwanda last October for the final squad and they only added off-spinning all-rounder Edwin Nuwagaba to make the final 15-man squad.
But Thawi and Turinawe had to painfully make two late changes after vice-captain Ismail Munir and pace bowler Akram Nsubuga failed successive Covid-19 tests, conducted at Mulago Hospital.
Skipper Pascal Murungi, who was MVP in Rwanda with 134 runs in three innings, five wickets for 38 runs, now has Isaac Ategeka as his assistant whereas exciting all-rounder Yunus Sowobi and top order batsman Fahad Mutagana are the new replacements.
The tournament where Uganda faces Scotland and Sri Lanka in warm-up games in Guyana early next week, presents the East African nation with Ireland, South Africa and India in the Group B contests but the tough Covid-19 measures are a worry for Thawi.
“There has to be an aspect of motivational speech but also, there has to be that aspect of addressing people individually, getting to know them at an even more intimate level than before,” he said.
“Winning makes it a lot easier, you have some momentum going forward. You’ll not see anybody giving up so easily.”
There are nine officials accompanying the team with legend Sam Walusimbi, who coached the Baby Cricket Cranes’ batch at the last appearance in Sri Lanka 2006 edition, as the head of delegation.
Players: Pascal Murungi (captain), Isaac Ategeka (vice-captain), Yunus Sowobi, Christopher Kidega, Pius Oloka, Joseph Baguma, Matthew Musinguzi, Ronald Omara, Cyrus Kakuru, Brian Asaba, Fahad Mutagana, Ronald Opio, Ronald Lutaaya, Edwin Nuwagaba, Juma Miyagi
Officials: Ivan Thawithemwira (head coach), Robinson Turinawe (assistant coach), Habiba Kulusum (physio), Sylvester Rokani (team manager), Richard Okia (selector), Alvin Bagaya (analyst), Paul Kaheru (Board rep), Paul Luswata (government rep), Sam Walusimbi (head of delegation)
ICC U-29 Cricket W. Cup. . .Uganda's schedules
Jan 10: Uganda vs. Scotland
Jan 12: Uganda vs. Sri Lanka
GROUP B MATCHES
Jan 15: Ireland vs. Uganda
Jan 18: South Africa vs. Uganda
Jan 22: India vs. Uganda