Crested Cranes coach George Lutalo made his intentions clear by naming seven forwards in his 20-man squad for today’s return leg against Ethiopia in Addis Ababa.
The foreign-based trio of Sandra Nabweteme, Laki Otandeka and Juliet Nalukenge are joined by Hasifah Nassuna, Margaret Kunihira, Fauzia Najjemba and Sharon Naddunga, taking only five defenders and five midfielders.
Uganda won the first leg of the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON) qualifiers first round at St Mary’s Stadium, Kitende, 2-0, but Lutalo was quick to point out that their lead might not be big enough to see out what will certainly be a wounded and more inspired Lucy side at home.
Lutalo will certainly remind Kunihira, Nalukenge and Nassuna that Ethiopia has been a good hunting ground for them in the past.
The first two scored in Bahir Dar in a 1-3 win in the second leg of the preliminary round of the 2020 Fifa U-17 Women World Cup qualifiers. Nalukenge had a brace while Kunihira grabbed one as Uganda ran away 5-1 winners on aggregate.
Nassuna, on the other hand, scored one and forced an own goal in the first leg of the first round of the 2020 Olympic qualifiers. Uganda were trailing 3-0 in that match before Nassuna came off the bench to do the damage limitation.
Beyond Ethiopia to Kenya
Uganda should be equally inspired as they are only 90 minutes away from the next round where Kenya lie in wait, for a potential grudge match.
Kenya eliminated Uganda 1-0 on aggregate from the 2018 AWCON qualifiers but for now the focus is getting one over Ethiopia, who also eliminated Uganda 4-2 in the 2020 Olympic qualifiers.
Lutalo’s side flourished in the first leg relying on Kunihira’s press against the Ethiopians, Najjemba’s never say die attitude that led to a second goal in the 76th minute after nearly being anonymous until then, Nalukenge’s hunger and Sumaya Komuntale’s marauding runs on the left wing.
The quartet and Shamira Nalugya, part of the national U-20 squad, seem to be establishing themselves as forces in a senior team that is still putting its pieces of the jigsaw together.
For now, they must combine with established senior players like Riticia Nabbosa, Nabweteme, Nassuna and new forces like Joan Nabirye to make Lutalo’s multi-thronged approach work.
TODAY | SECOND LEG, 4PM
Ethiopia vs. Uganda
Goalkeeper: Ruth Aturo (C)
Defenders: Viola Namuddu, Sumaya Komuntale, Shadia Nankya, Asia Nakibuuka
Midfielders: Joan Nabirye, Riticia Nabbosa, Hasifah Nassuna
Forwards: Fauzia Najjemba, Juliet Nalukenge, Margaret Kunihira
Coach: George Lutalo