Cranes to unleash rich brigade of play makers

Friday January 15 2021

The Artists. KCCA’s Anukani (L) and URA’s Ojera (C) and Kagimu will play alongside the experienced Mawejje, Karisa, Orit and Watambala at Chan. PHOTOS | JOHN BATANUDDE & EDDIE CHICCO

By Andrew Mwanguhya

Uganda Cranes midfield in Cameroon has only two players that have been at the African Nations Championship (Chan) finals before.

Yet it is one of the richest departments for coach Johnny McKinstry, for it blends experience and youth just brilliantly.

Whereas it is only URA’s Saidi Kyeyune and Vipers Milton Karisa of the midfield/wing options that have played at this stage before, there is still more experience in one of the vice captains, Tonny Mawejje.

Mawejje, who returned home to Police after a decade in Europe, has been instrumental in numerous Africa Cup of Nations and World Cup qualifiers.
He was also majestic in midfield as Uganda ended a four-decade absence from Afcon, as well as at the finals tournament in Gabon close to four years ago.

Gabon was incidentally his last event for the Cranes as his waned form did not earn him recalls until recently when McKinstry gave the 34-year-old a lifeline for this domestic players’ continental tournament.

Youthful exuberance
McKinstry has used Mawejje, URA’s Shafik Kagimu and Karim Watambala interchangeably in the Pre-Chan tournament, with Kyeyune right ahead of him and Vipers youngster Bobosi Byaruhanga injecting youthful exuberance.


Bright Anukani, who missed the build-up tourney away on continental duty with KCCA, could be tasked to play an 8 or 10 right behind the strikers – a role Joachim Ojera could also have a say in. Fiery Karisa, who scored three goals in the build-up tourney, and marauding Viane Sekajugo are sure to provide incisive width down the flanks.

It is the craft from this group that the likes Brian Aheebwa and Muhammad Shaban will be unlocked. The Cranes are looking to progress from the group stage for the first time in five attempts.