Cranes players, especially those knocking at the door for national team football will be holding their breath ahead of squad naming tomorrow. Uganda head coach Johnny McKinstry will name his army for the two home and away 2022 Afcon Cameroon qualifying games with hope that travel restrictions don’t hurt his plans like they did a week ago.
A bulk of the team that camped in Dubai over seven days ago - especially newbies like Jayden Onen and Elvis Bwomono, will be hoping they did enough to impress the Northern Irishman.
However, those that missed the bootcamp because of travel restrictions or their clubs simply holding onto them, like skipper Denis Onyango and the Israel and America based quartet should have little concerns regarding selection.
The main issue of concern now, however, is the dates for the two back-to-back qualifying games between Uganda and South Sudan. When Caf asked member associations to submit their dates of choice from the November 9-17 international break, Fufa submitted Nov 14, while South Sudan November 16.
Until yesterday morning, Fufa were engaging their South Sudanese counterparts to have Caf move the return leg, which will be hosted in Nairobi, from November 16 to 17. The move favoured both teams since all would have to travel after the Kampala leg, and an extra day for travel and recovery would have been welcome.
But yesterday, Fufa woke up to even more complex news, a revised fixture from Caf indicating that the Kampala first leg would now be played on November 11, three days earlier.
“Practically,” Fufa head of communications Ahmed Hussein told Daily Monitor, “It’s impossible.
“Most players will have played their club games on November 8. So when you consider travel and recovery, 11th is not practical.
“And most coaches would want to be with their players in that first week of the international break before the match. “So we are engaging Caf again to get a better working date for the game.”
As consultations continue between Fufa and Caf, the venue issue has at least since been resolved.
Early this year Caf and Fifa deemed Cranes fortress, Namboole, unfit to host senior international games until they fix the playing surface, lights and the media tribune among others.
Then government’s takeover for the facility to work as a Covid treatment centre later on just about confirmed that the above worries may not abound after all. So Fufa were left with Kitende, who initially only passed the Caf test for club and junior matches. For international games, St Mary’s still had to first fix lighting and stadium accessibility to be given a proper thumbs up.
“Yes that was the case for St Mary’s but due to the unique situation now, and with fans not being in the stadium, the demands were relaxed,” explained Hussein.
South Sudan hosted their first match against Burkina Faso in Khartoum, but have this time opted for Nairobi.
CAR, Tanzania and Rwandan officials led by centre referee Messie Jessie Nkounkou of Congo (two officials) will be in charge of the Kampala leg.
The Cranes could qualify for their third successive Afcon finals if they win both games against South Sudan.
Uganda top Group B on four points, with Bukina Faso second on goal difference.