McKinstry: Team is in good place

Tuesday January 12 2021

Ready to roll. McKinstry is confident the Cranes have had enough preps to bring out the best in the Chan finals. Photo | John Batanudde

By Andrew Mwanguhya

January 14 is perhaps the most earmarked day in the country as Ugandans head to the polls to elect a president.

But for a section of others, there are two more immediate dates they will have blocked out, and that is January 16 and 18.

After the coronavirus pandemic shelved almost all normal programming last year, the 2020 edition of the home-based players tournament, African Nations Championship (Chan), had to be moved to this year.

And two days after the elections in Uganda, Chan tournament kicks off in three Cameroonian cities, with Douala hosting Group C of Uganda, Rwanda, Morocco and Togo.

Two days later, the Uganda Cranes take to the field in their fifth appearance in the tournament’s six-edition history, this time facing coach Johnny McKinstry’s former side Rwanda.

The Cranes have so far put in three phases of preparation, the first residential week in Kampala, two more in Yaounde where they played against Cameroon, Zambia and Niger, and now in Douala.


Good spirits
McKinstry, whose minimum requirement at the finals is to progress Uganda from the group for the first time since they debuted in 2011, is confident the team is now in a good place.

“This is an opportunity for us to try and fine-tune, really,” he said from the Cranes camp in Douala. “The team is in a good place. There is no major things we want to change at this stage.
“Just the little things where we know that if we can add one per cent here, two per cent there, it could give us some extra advantage.

“We are now in phase three of our training camp and the boys are in good spirits and the countdown is on. Everyone of them can’t wait to play.”
While only five of the 25-man squad have previously been at Chan finals, they have an experienced man at the wheel.

McKinstry, 35, was in charge of the Rwanda when the Amavubi Stars reached the quarterfinals at home in 2016. Such is the cup of know-how wisdom Uganda will hope McKinstry serves his players from.
The Cranes will also contend with Togo and defending champions Morocco for a place in the next round, with the top two from each group progressing.