Kimbowa feels like a baby learning to walk

Maroons defender Jacob Akao (L) battles Wakiso Giants' forward Kimbowa in a league game. PHOTO/JOHN BATANUDDE 

What you need to know:

Uganda must beat Algeria in Douala on June 18, and - later in September - Niger, while hoping Tanzania falter in the Taifa Stars’ fixtures, for the Cranes to qualify. Algeria already qualified after winning all their first four matches. Only the top two in the group qualify

Three years ago while playing for Busoga United, Shariph Kimbowa said he wanted to play for the national team in the next five years. 

As you read this, the Wakiso Giants striker is training with the Uganda Cranes as part of the provisional team preparing for the must-win Afcon 2023 qualifier against Algeria due June 18.

Uganda host Algeria from the Cameroonian city of Douala knowing only victory will keep their qualification chances up.

Cranes coach Micho Sredojevic is yet to name his travelling team but that Kimbowa made it to the provisional side in itself shows clear progress. 

Dream come true

The dream seems to have arrived two years earlier than scheduled, and boy is he thrilled!  

“Playing for the national team has always been my dream,” said the striker, in his 20s. 

“I felt so good when I was called up to the national team because it’s a dream come true for me. 

“I was with my friends and they told me I had been called and had been tagged on Twitter. I felt really great.”

Decent season

Kimbowa was decent for Wakiso Giants in the just concluded season, top-scoring for them with nine goals, four behind league leader, Allan Kayiwa of Express. 

Charles Bbaale of SC Villa, who scored 12 league goals, is one of new summoned strikers Kimbowa will compete against.

“I felt that the hard work had finally paid off,” added Kimbowa, who is already enjoying the new environment on the national team.

“I have met with the boys and they are all friendly and welcoming, but what I can say for sure is that competition is well alive. I like it because I don’t fear competition. 

“You have to give your best because every training is like a real match. You don’t know what the coach wants exactly, so you have to give your best.”

Learning from the best

But make no mistake! Despite the call-up, Kimbowa is not carried away. “For me the call-up is just the beginning. I’m like a baby learning how to walk. 

“The call-up is a step ahead and now I can also use this as a step towards professional football out of the country.

“Here at the national team I’m interacting with professional footballers, seeing how they train, how they behave… So I’m also seeing how I can also make it.”

Kimbowa joined Busoga United from Kampala Regional League side, Lungujja Galaxy, at the start of the 2019/20 season.

Uganda must beat Algeria in Douala and later in September, Niger, while hoping Tanzania falter in the Taifa Stars’ fixtures, for the Cranes to qualify. Both the Cranes and Taifa Stars are tied on four points apiece. 

For Niger, who are bottom on two points, to qualify they must beat Tanzania and Uganda and pray the latter duo also lose to Algeria. 

Ivory Coast Afcon 2023 Qualifiers 

June 18

Tanzania vs. Niger

Uganda vs. Algeria

September fixtures

Niger vs. Uganda

Algeria vs. Tanzania

Group F standings              

                 P    W  D   L   GD   Pts

Algeria     4     4     0    0     6     12

Tanzania  4     1     1     2     -2    4

Uganda    4     1     1     2     -2    4

Niger        4     0    2     2     -2     2