What you need to know:
- Let’s Play Ball. Three new foreign players of Ugandan descent to join Huddersfield's Bellagambi in Cranes camp, Sentamu trains with Vipers as they prepare for Uganda Cup final.
The Uganda Cranes start a major qualification campaign off a fully completed national league championship since the Covid pandemic took a foothold in March 2020.
Uganda open their 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers on June 4 with an away tie against two-time continental champions Algeria before welcoming Niger to Kampala four days later.
East African neighbours Tanzania complete the group, where the top two after six rounds of matches will automatically qualify for the finals in Ivory Coast next year.
And for the first time in three seasons, the Uganda Premier League (UPL) concluded successfully, with all 30 matches played and Vipers winning it with 74 points, 18 ahead of KCCA in second place.
With leagues elsewhere in Africa and Europe also ending successfully, Cranes coach Micho Sredojevic is optimistic that fitness levels of players is in a much better condition than before.
“I am very impressed by the commitment and character of the players and this is a great start ahead of our first game in the 2023 Afcon qualifier,” said Micho after a training session at Kampala Quality School.
Fit as fiddles
“The fitness levels of these players is based on the successful completion of the league after two years of non sporting activities.”
Meanwhile, uncertainty surrounding Yunus Sentamu and his involvement with the Cranes continues.
The player, who scored 14 goals in the league and has six in the Uganda Cup with a final still to play, was reportedly supposed to meet with Micho yesterday to see if he could allow to join camp.
Sentamu was left out of the squad named on Sunday with Micho citing the player’s personal reasons and the player himself telling Monitor he was instead happy at his club Vipers and not worried about the Cranes.
As the Cranes trained yesterday afternoon, Sentamu also trained with his club, Vipers, who are preparing for their Uganda Cup final against Bul due June 12.
Elsewhere, three more foreign players players with Ugandan roots are expected to join the Cranes camp today. Ibra Sekajja of English side Dulwich Harmlet and Bognor Regis’ Nathan
Odokonyero should arrive in the country today.
Tirhys Luknyomoi of AFC Port Chester was due in yesterday. The three join 20-year-old Huddlesfield goalkeeper Giousue Bellagambi, who was named on an earlier 33-man preliminary squad.
The first trio will be assessed together with the players already in camp for inclusion in the final 23-man squad for next month’s two qualifying games.
Algeria vs. Uganda
Uganda vs. Niger