Uganda’s first ever qualification to the U-20 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) has been rewarded with a fixture against hosts Mauritania in Group A.
This is after the draws conducted yesterday in Cameroon for the 12-team tournament in which Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Ghana were also drawn as top seeded teams in Group B and C, respectively.
Cameroon and Mozambique are the other teams that make up Group A for the tournament that will run from February 14 to March 4.
“We respect the opponents because they all went through a qualification process. But we also want to show that it was not by chance that we won a regional qualification,” coach Morley Byekwaso said of the draw.
The top two teams from each of the three groups will qualify for the semifinals alongside the two best third-placed teams.
Uganda in age bliss
Like Uganda, Mauritania and Mozambique will be appearing at this stage for the first time, while Cameroon, the 1995 winners, will be making a 10th appearance, the second highest behind three-time winners Ghana with 12.
The Hippos qualified alongside hosts Tanzania, who they defeated 4-1 in the final of the Cecafa tournament in November last year.
It capped a successful period for the country in under age competitions with Uganda also debuting at the Afcon Under-17 tournament in 2019.
Up to six players have since been promoted from that team, including captain Gavin Kizito Mugweri, goalkeeper Jack Komakech, Najib Yiga, Ivan Asaba and Isma Mugulusi and Bright Stars midfielder Davis Ssekajja.
All six were maintained as Byekwaso trimmed his preliminary squad to 30 from the 38 initially summoned.
“All the players we summoned are good but some have come at a time when we have moved to a more competitive stage. They are still in our setup, fortunately, ” he added.
Byekwaso is expected to further trim the squad to 25 players before the team flies out.
Players in camp
Jack Komakech (Ascent SA), Delton Oyo (Busoga United), Denis Ssenyondwa (SC Villa), Daniel Ochama (Boro Boro SuperSport)
Gavin Kizito Mugweri (Villa), Kenneth Semakula (Busoga Utd), Musa Ramathan (KCCA) Joseph Kafumbe (KCCA), Robert Kitabalwa (Vipers), Begisa James (UPDF), Simon Baligeya (Kibuli SS), Richard Bbosa (Express).
Isma Mugulusi (Busoga Utd), Najib Yiga (Vipers), Steven Sserwadda (KCCA), John Kokas Alou (URA), Ivan Eyamu (Mbarara City), Andrew Kawooya ( KCCA), Ivan Asaba (Vipers), Davis Ssekajja (Bright Stars), Faisal Wabyoona (Big Talent SA).
Ivan Bogere (Proline), Sam Ssenyonjo (KCCA), Derrick Kakooza (Police), Richard Basangwa (Vipers), Joseph Bukenya Kizza (KCCA), Raymond Onyai (Mbarara City), Ashiraf Mulindi (Kataka), Thierry Ssali Alpha (Proline).
Player and Club
Ronald Kiberu Synergy
Umar Lutalo Aspire Academy
Samuel Kitaka Loughborough, UK
Lotanna Obedi Big Talent
Emma Mukisa Kataka
Swamadu Okur Kataka
Opio Odong Luzira