Coach Ayub Khalifah is going to give midfielder Shamirah Nalugya and winger Margaret Kunihira as much time to recover as possible ahead of Friday’s third round U-20 Women World Cup qualifier with South Africa at St. Mary’s Stadium – Kitende.
The two, who make the core principles of the team come together, are battling niggles but Khalifa expects them “to be ready by Friday.”
Playmaker Nalugya is the major worry as she has missed the practice games against She Corporate and Uganda Christian University (UCU) Lady Cardinals.
However, Khalifah has tried moving defender Aisha Nantongo to midfield. Her physical presence could yet prove to be a blessing for the U-20 midfield that has looked lightweight in physical battles.
In the 1-0 win over Corporate on Monday, she also showed an ability to shoot from distance and she also naturally falls back into the defensive positions to help the defence when fullbacks Samalie Nakacwa and Sumaya Komuntale advance.
Kunihira missed the Monday game at Makerere University Business School (Mubs) but she was on the sidelines in company of the team doctor.
Her injury allowed Khalifah to explore the option of returning the exciting Kampala Queens winger Lillian Mutuuzo to the team.
Mutuuzo was in camp ahead of the 10-3 second round triumph over Kenya. At the time, Khalifah thought she would be part of an attacking trio that included Kunihira on the left and captain Fauzia Najjemba in the middle.
Unfortunately, Mutuuzo had to be left out to sort personal issues but Khalifah got a timely solution and boost as Juliet Nalukenge returned from Cyprus, where she had just travelled to to sign a professional contract with parent club Apollon Limassol.
Meanwhile, Najjemba also took a kick in the leg in the first half against Corporate and was immediately substituted as a precautionary measure.