New-look midfield handed chance to impress

The absence of Aucho opens a window in the middle of the park. PHOTOS/EDDIE CHICCO 

What you need to know:

One player who has endured through, featuring at the 2017 and 2019 Afcon edition is Khalid Aucho who would be handed the captaincy at the start of this campaign.

Talk of the Cranes being in transition has persisted for the last two years especially after the team missed out on back-to-back qualifications to the previous two Afcon editions.

Consequently, a number of players have since left the national team set up either willingly or been dropped with captain Emmanuel Okwi leading the exodus at the start of this World Cup qualifying campaign.

One player who has endured through, featuring at the 2017 and 2019 Afcon edition is Khalid Aucho who would be handed the captaincy at the start of this campaign.

The announcement that he is set to miss out on Friday’s encounter against Botswana and most likely Algeria has opened up opportunities for a new-look midfield.

Aucho (R) is missing due to injury. 

There was a glimpse of that in the friendly match played in March as the Cranes played out a 2-all draw with Ghana when Paul Put handed a debut to SC Villa midfielder Ronald Ssekiganda alongside club colleague Kenneth Ssemakula in a three-man midfield with playmaker Travis Mutyaba at the tip.

Ssekiganda’s assuredness on the ball must have pleased Put as he looked at home against more experienced opposition.

He has also been among the best performers in the domestic league with his wide ranging of passing also favouring Put's attacking approach.

With Bobosi Byaruhanga also set to miss out, the holding midfield role could be handed to Joel Sserunjogi who has impressed in his maiden season at KCCA.

Aucho's absence could also be a blessing in disguise with Sserunjogi despite his inexperience being more comfortable on the ball.

The versatile Ssemakula is also a strong candidate for the holding midfield role having also been drafted there in the second half of the 1-0 win against Somalia.

Put is spoilt for choice in attacking midfield areas with the exciting Zamalek attacker Mutyaba assured of a starting place.

Aucho (R) in a game against Mali. 

Ibrahim Kasule's game has also grown in leaps and bounds over the past two seasons after a fine season for New York Red Bulls II in the MLS Next Pro League where scored 15 goals and added seven assists last season.

He has also scored five times in 10 appearances this season. Allan Okello is another player with playmaking ability with today being an opportunity to thrive in national team colours.