Halid Lwaliwa is one of the most consistent Ugandan players for both club and country in the last couple of years.
He has been so consistent the man who matters most right now had to approve by handing him the armband for the Chan finals that kick off this weekend in Cameroon. The youngster, 24, brings both leadership and certainly to central defence at Vipers and Uganda Cranes.
Hoisting the league title with Vipers last season and captaining Uganda to the 2019 Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup trophy are just some of his recent feats.
“He would be supported by a group of four or five senior players, who will be asked to take on the mantle of working alongside Halid to provide a good atmosphere,’ said Cranes coach Johnny McKinstry. One of those senior players, who has thrice been at Chan finals, is Denis Iguma, who is back in the Cranes fold after a long time out injured.
He has impressed in KCCA’s opening five league games and one on the continent.Iguma’s experience is what both Lwaliwa and McKinstry will look to draw from in defence.
While Iguma can comfortably play across the defence and in midfield, right back - which role he is more accustomed to - could be his duty.
Vipers youngster Aziz Kayondo has just had an impressive Cecafa with the U20s, and he looks a front-runner for left back position when Uganda open against Rwanda on Monday.
Build from the back
But it is the central defence unit that McKinstry will have to get right if he is to build from the back strongly and go as far as Cranes can in this tournament.
With Lwaliwa almost a certainty, barring any illness, he will need a partner that both complements and pushes him.
URA’s Paul Patrick Mbowa has been in superb form both for club and country, and looks like to have impressed McKinstry to partner Lwaliwa in central defence. McKinstry is, however, not devoid of more options as he has had sufficient time with this group of players to know who serves him best when and against who.
Hassan Muhamud and Eric Ssenjobe of Police, Kyetume’s Mujuzi Musitafa and Vipers Paul Willa all give wonderful options. Uganda are looking to progressing from the group for the first time in five attempts.
The opponents are defending champions Morocco, Rwanda and Togo.