Desabre tests Cranes readiness for Algeria

Former Uganda Cranes coach Desabre is now in charge of DRC. PHOTO/JOHN BATANUDDE 

What you need to know:

The friendly due next Wednesday in Cameroon will help both Micho’s Uganda and Desabre’s DRC fine-tune for their respective Afcon 2023 qualifying ties against Algeria and Gabon

The last time Uganda cranes and coach Sebastien Desabre were involved, the pair were at the Africa Cup of Nations finals in Egypt.

Then, in June 2019, the Frenchman was in charge of the Cranes - beating DRC 2-0, drawing one-all with Zimbabwe, and progressing to the last 16 despite the 2-0 defeat to hosts Egypt.

After a player strike due to unfulfilled welfare promises, Desabre’s men lost 1-0 to Senegal in the last 16 and returned to Kampala.

Desabre didn’t, as his head had been turned by lucrative offers from Egyptian clubs.

Old flames 

Long story short, both moved on - Desabre to a couple of clubs before settling for another national team, and Uganda further away from the direction of the Afcon finals.

Next Wednesday, destiny will bring together a meeting of the knowns, again. Desabre is now the coach of DRC, and Micho - the returning one - has since been back with the Cranes.

This time, though, it is far from a meeting of the best 24 teams on the continent, but one when both are struggling to get back to Afcon.

The two will use the friendly to test their readiness for their respective Afcon qualifying matches against Algeria and Gabon. But make no mistake, the romance will not be missed.

“We are playing the DRC with former Uganda Cranes Sebastien Desabre, my coaching brother,” said Uganda coach Micho after he named his final 23 travelling squad in Kampala, "It'll be a general checkup before playing Algeria.”

Micho has never been enthusiastic about talking about Desabre, in part due to Ugandans’ fondness of the Frenchman because they believe he played better football with the Cranes.

Meeting of strugglers 

However, the two will shake hands and smile on Wednesday and get to enjoy the moment. 

From beating DRC with Uganda in Egypt four years ago, Desabre will be ensuring the reverse is true, and Micho - exactly what you think. 

Both Uganda and DRC are barely breathing in the fight to qualify for Ivory Coast 2023, never mind the tournament will be played in January and February 2024.

The two teams have all won one game apiece in four matches of their respective groups, leaving their final two a do or die affair.

Both could and can qualify if they win their final two games. Uganda’s Group F has Algeria already qualified on 12 points, while the Cranes are tied on four with Tanzania. 

Uganda must beat Algeria and Niger and hope Tanzania falter in the Taifa Stars final two matches, while DRC need to beat Group I leaders on seven points - Gabon - and Sudan, to qualify. 

Meanwhile, six players of the 42 Micho provisionally summoned were declared injured before the Serb picked his final 23. 

The team set off for Cameroon via Addis Ababa in the wee hours of Friday morning, with 13 players staying behind on standby.

Of the final 23, 16 players travelled from Kampala and were due to arrive in Doualla, Cameroon on Friday afternoon. 

Shs30m boost 

The remaining seven would connect with the rest in Cameroon directly from their respective clubs.

The team has 19 players from the last squad that faced Tanzania, while four have bounced back from Chan in Algeria. 

Micho’s men will have a training match on Sunday before Wednesday's clash with DRC - a precursor for the must win Afcon qualifier against Algeria due June 18.

Elsewhere, Cranes sponsors MTN have pledged Shs30m to the players should Uganda beat Algeria, a promise made by the company Chief Marketing Officer, Sen Somdev, while visiting the team on Wednesday.

“This is to help give motivation to our players and make sure they bring joy to us,’ said Somdvev.

Cranes travelling squad

Goalkeepers: Salim Omar Magoola (Richards Bay FC, South Africa), Charles Lukwago (St. George FC, Ethiopia), Nafian Alionzi (URA FC, Uganda)

Defenders: Kenneth Semakula (SC Villa, Uganda), Gavin Kizito (Al Ittihad SC, Egypt), Abdu Azizi Kayondo (CD Leganes, Spain), Joseph Ochaya (Al Makwloon Al Arab, Egypt), Halid Lwaliwa (FK Bregalnica, North Macedonia), Gift Fred (SC Villa, Uganda), Geofrey Wasswa (KCCA FC, Uganda), Rogers Torach (Vipers SC, Uganda)

Midfielders: Khalid Aucho (Yanga SC, Tanzania), Bobosi Byaruhanga (FC Austin, USA), Siraje Ssentamu (Vipers SC, Uganda), Moses Waiswa (KCCA FC, Uganda), Isma Mugulusi (Makedonikos FC, Greece)

Forwards: Milton Karisa (Vipers SC, Uganda), Travis Mutyaba (SC Villa, Uganda), Rogers Mato (KCCA FC, Uganda), Faruku Miya (Caykur Rizespor, Turkey), Emmanuel Okwi (Erbil SC, Iraq), Fahad Bayo (MFK Vyškov, Czech Republic), Richard Bassangwa (Wadi Degla SC, Egypt)