Botes wants to strengthen Crested Cranes

New Crested Cranes head coach Sheryl Botes was unveiled at Fufa House in Mengo. PHOTO/JOHN BATANUDDE 

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The Crested Cranes have not had a substantive coach since George Lutalo was forced out after an abysmal show at the July 2022 Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco.

It has been a long time coming but Fufa, on Wednesday, announced that South African coach Sheryl Botes will take over stewardship of the women’s national football team for the next three years. 

The Crested Cranes have not had a substantive coach since George Lutalo was forced out after an abysmal show at the July 2022 Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco.

Fufa announced the position vacant in March and momentarily used U-20 coach Ayub Khalifa and veteran Charles Ayiekoh for the Africa Cup (Wafcon) and Olympic qualifiers.

Fufa president Moses Magogo announced that they had five local coaches including one woman apply for the Crested Cranes job while 23 foreigners “from around the world and as far as the Americas” applied for the job.

Botes, one of the nine female applicants and former head coach of the South African U-20 women Basetsana, is a Caf instructor and was at the time of appointment heading her country’s Girls Soccer Academy based at the High Performance Centre in Pretoria.

She spoke a good game and gave vibes of a breath of fresh air into our football at her unveiling held on a rainy morning at the Fufa offices in Mengo. But her plans can only go through with the backing of the federation.

First, the Crested Cranes are out of any competitive tournaments for 2024 following their failure to qualify for Wafcon and the Olympics.

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“Two years is a bonus but we have to keep working,” Botes said.

“I love possession-based football and I have seen some Ugandan players that can keep the ball. But it is a style that we have to emphasize.

"If I teach players that, then I need to test it in matches and hopefully, we shall be active in all international breaks,” Botes said.

She also emphasizes that she is not here to reinvent the wheel but rather polish an already promising product.

“I do not want to change the national team but to strengthen it. I want to bring sports science, technology and a lot more to Ugandan football but everything will require the patience of fans too.

I want to engage the local coaches and know why they do certain things and how we can improve on or work with them.

For the players, I want to promise that everyone has a chance to play. We will have camps of 40-50 players and then I can watch and see what attributes the players come with.”

Fufa’s pledge

Fufa have promised express support for the newly appointed coach.

“We acknowledge that you cannot get a lot of engagement in Africa. But we are trying to ensure that we are open for invitations like Cosafa tournaments, we shall have the Cecafa competitions annually and our teams will enter all available tournaments for the U-17, U-20 and senior side.

The coach has asked that we be active every international window and we are happy to do that,” Fufa president Moses Magogo, said.

Crested Cranes coaches since 2016

2016: Majidah Nantanda

2017-2021: Faridah Bulega

2021-2022: George Lutalo

July- October 2023: Ayub Khalifa

October 2023: Charles Ayiekoh

2023-2026: Sheryl Botes

Crested Cranes technical team

Coach: Sheryl Botes

Sports scientist: Ashley De Beer

Goalkeeping coach: David Ribeiro

Video analyst: Phuphu Mohlaba