Chance to kill off wounded Desert Foxes

Playmaker Travis Mutyaba must have a go at the Algeria defence. PHOTO/JOHN BATANUDDE 

What you need to know:

Sections of  the Algerian media have castigated Petrovic for the team's 'horrible' defending and lacking attacking power in the absence of injured playmaker Riyad Mahrez.

For the first time in recent memory, Uganda Cranes will daringly take on a North African opposition with a commendable share of the odds in their favour.

Apart from the lessons and morale generated from the  1-0 win over Botswana on Friday at Namboole, Paul Put's Cranes are set to take on an unsettled Algerian side on Monday that is yet to recover from the 2-1 home loss to Guinea.

Bosnian-born Swiss coach Vladimir Petkovic, who replaced Djamel Belmadi as Algerian boss after a disappointing Afcon showing, arrived in Kampala on Saturday under immense pressure to deliver a win in just his second competitive game in charge.

The catastrophic home result has pushed Algeria on the edge and suddenly thrust their World Cup hopes into doubt - even though they still lead the 2026 World Cup qualifying Group G with six points from three matches.

Seven games left to play but many opponents no longer accord Algeria extra respect especially after attaining one win (friendly with Bolivia) in the last six matches and no longer possess the dreaded Magreb playing identity.

The Desert Foxes' defence looked wobbly as they conceded the two cheap goals against Guinea - with Morlaye Sylla punishing their fragility to net the first and Aguibou Camara catching the goalkeeper Anthony Mandrea  napping to score the second.

Sections of  the Algerian media have castigated Petrovic for the team's 'horrible' defending and lacking attacking power in the absence of injured playmaker Riyad Mahrez.

Against Uganda Cranes at Namboole today, Petrovic may be forced to integrate playmakers  Houssem Aouar (Roma) and Ismaël Bennacer (AC Milan) into the midfield to bail out Nambil Bentaleb who put up a no-show on Thursday.

Guinea prevailed by employing four midfielders to outmuscle Algeria's two enforcers - Bentaleb and Brahimi - a tactical tip Put ought to note down if he is to rejig his midfield trio.

Cranes forward Steven Mukwala (R) had a decent account against Botswana. PHOTO/JOHN BATANUDDE 

Cranes have lost both previous encounters to Algeria, which occurred during the qualifying stages for the most recent Afcon but the visitors are facing a new breed side eager to prove doubters wrong.

For now, the 2026 ticket to the US-Canada-Mexico World Cup showpiece is within reach, considering that third-placed Uganda is tied on six points with leaders Algeria dn second-placed Guinea after three rounds of matches played.

Mozambique are just behind on goal difference in the six-team group that also includes Botswana and Somalia.

Put's work cut out

“The boys did very well, had a lot of possession but in the first half we didn’t create enough open chances and were not present enough in the last zone. 

Fans were in full voice. PHOTO/JOHN BATANUDDE 

"But you have to understand that lots of the players have come in at the last minute even this morning so it has been complicated for us working with just16 players," Put said after the Botswana hard-earned victory.

Lyon left winger Saïd Benrahma, is Algeria's go-to man in Mahrez's absence and although he cut a forlorn figure in the loss to Guinea, Put may be forced to employ Kenneth Ssemakula at right back  to tame him.

Without the attacking threat of Islam Slimani and Youcef Belaili, Cranes centre-backs Halid Lwaliwa and the impressive debutant Elio Capradossi may find surrogate forwards Amine Gouiri and Yacine Brahimi easy to contain.

At fortress Namboole and riding under the theme, 'if you don't win a game don't lose it', Cranes must boldly take the game to Algeria with striker Muhammad Shaban who scored against Botswana getting more playing time. 

Without injured Dortmund defender Ramy Bensebaini, the feeble Algerian backline looks worthy of a goal every match.

"It was emotional when I came on. The atmosphere was incredible and the fans led us to our win (over Botswana). My new teammates helped me a lot  and we can take on Algeria (and win) if we work together," Italy based defender Capradossi, revealed after a man-of-the-match debut.

Uganda Cranes players (L-R) Joel Sserunjogi, Muhammad Shaban and Denis Omedi. PHOTO/JOHN BATANUDDE 

Put is expected to rethink playmakers Allan Okello and Travis Mutyaba's roles plus accompanying workaholic Ronald Ssekiganda with a compatible partner (possibly Joel Sserunjogi) in midfield if Cranes is to win with command.

Cranes are growing in confidence with each passing game under Put and victory over the lauded Desert Foxes will ultimately endear him more to the fans that are regaining belief in the national team.

Fifa World Cup 2026

Group G

Monday, 7pm

Uganda vs Algeria, Namboole