If there is a point that has been fully drummed into every Cranes player’s mind it’s the bare minimum expectation at this edition’s African Nations Championship (Chan) finals.
Everyone of them knows that not much will be written of them if Uganda fail to progress from the group, which would be an unfortunate count of five.
From Tonny Mawejje to the team skipper Halid Lwaliwa, they have all used every opportunity to remind their colleagues of the expectations. Now the man favourite to lead the hunt for goals, Brian Aheebwa, is reiterating the call.
“We are training really hard so that we can progress from the group stage,” he told the media after training in Douala, Cameroon this week. Uganda and Group C opponents Rwanda, Togo and Morocco will be based in Douala for their group engagements.
“Personally,” added the 22-year-old KCCA striker, “I’m really ready for the challenge because this is one of the challenges I’ve been waiting for.” Aheebwa is as prepared to grab the bull by its horns as is devastating in front of goal - at least going by the form he has started the 2020/21 football season in.
Yet, while he was away from Uganda’s Pre-Chan mini-tournament in Yaounde, the Cranes still scored six goals in the draw with Cameroon, 2-0 victory over Zambia and 3-0 dismissal of Niger.
Perhaps that is the kind of form that has given Cranes coach Johnny McKinstry the much needed confidence heading into the finals, with the opening match against Rwanda on Monday.
One of the scorers in that build-up tournament, Stephen Mukwala, was in fact sent back home - hard luck to the boy - because space had to be created for Aheebwa.
Unstoppable no. 9
Aheebwa and three other added players from KCCA missed the Pre-Chan tournament because they were on continental duty with their club.
And to emphasize his importance to club and country, Aheebwa scored all three KCCA goals as coach Mike Mutebi’s mean beat AS Kigali.
Although the Ugandan club were ejected from the Caf Confederation Cup on away goals rule, Aheebwa’s form only worked to further fuel McKinstry’s confidence.
The former Mbarara City striker is the most in-form forward in the country, scoring seven goals in the opening five league games - including four in the 8-0 win over Onduparaka. Aheebwa arrived at Lugogo in the off-season as Mbarara City’s all-time goal scorer.
He scored 14 goals last season, with eight coming in the Premier League and six from Uganda Cup and Pilsner Super8 engagements.
He played three seasons with Mbarara City, including the Fufa Big League, where he scored 32 goals in all competitions. He is ready for the big game.Actually, such is McKinstry’s forward riches that he also has the league runner-up top scorer Ocen Ben of Police and live wire Muhammad Shaban.
Joachim Ojera , Viane Ssekajugo and Vipers duo of Ibrahim Orit and Milton Karisa, who scored three goals in the build-up event, provide the much needed support upfront.
Name: Brian Aheebwa
Date of birth:
July 1, 1998
Current team: KCCA FC
Former team: Mbarara City
Youth Teams: Mayanja Memorial, Mbarara Soccer Academy, Kahunde PS, St John Bosco Seminary, Hoima/St Kirigwajjo SS,