Uganda open their fifth account of the Africa Nations Championship (Chan) today with regional rivals Rwanda the team staring into the muzzle of the well-oiled Cranes arsenal.
Cranes left for Cameroon a little over two weeks ago and the players might only have been hearing of the heavily armed military in the capital Kampala, but there preparation cannot be any different.
From the first phase of the prep in Kampala, the team arrived in Younde for three rounds of build-up matches against hosts Cameroon, Zambia and Niger. The account they gave of themselves was stellar – 1-1. 2-0 and 3-0.
Four months earlier, Fufa committed to lavishing the team with preps in Dubai. That camp, for the senior team, was ahead of the Afcon double header against South Sudan. The result was nothing to talk home about after a home draw and away loss off the northern neighbours.
But there is no doubt that the current Chan prep is a major upgrade from that Dubai camp. And this is further confirmed by Umbro, the new Fufa partner, dressing the Cranes in a resplendent kit.
At a time the coronavirus pandemic has grounded many sporting activities, it is a major kudos to Fufa boss Moses Magogo that federation has not sacrificed the Cranes’ needs and given it more attention that even before the pandemic. It is even more encouraging that Fufa did not lose its focus as Magogo divided his loyalty on both Cranes and politics.
And now is the time; for some, a time to progress past the group stage. But for others it is much more than that. Johnny McKinstry’s side is the personification of confidence. Every hole that gaped in the senior team ahead of the South Sudan ties appears to have been plugged.
Peg the good preps to the last Cranes revelation on the continent (Afcon 2019 in Egypt) and you have a team that is good enough to compete with the big boys. It is just as well that they are drawn with defending champions Morocco in Group C.
McKinstry’s team have no excuse to just end the group hoodoo, they must aim for the Holy Grail.