Football

Cranes start rebuilding process with encounter against Bafana Bafana Bafana

Uganda are preparing for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers Qatar 2022. They are in group E alongside Rwanda, Kenya and Mali

Sinan RAJUB SENOGA 

Uganda Cranes and South Africa’s Bafana Bafana will lock horns in an international friendly at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto.

The encounter will be the first match for either side since failing to qualify for the 2021 AFCON final tournament.

The Cranes failed to qualify from Group B of the qualification campaign after losing 1-0 to Malawi, South Africa lost 2-0 to Sudan in Khartoum in their decisive Group C encounter.

Since then, FUFA sacked the team’s head coach Johnathan McKinstry while Cranes skipper Dennis Onyango retired just like midfielders Mike Azira and Hassan Wasswa. Emmanuel Okwi took up the team captain’s armband.

The Cranes squad currently in South Africa consists of 15 locally based players while Abdallah Mubiru, the current Cranes coach overlooked a good number of foreign based players. Five of the 15 are players who helped the U-20 team the Hippos reach the AFCON finals early this year.

Goalkeeper Ismail Watenga is expected to take up Onyango’s gloves but will face stiff competition from Azam’s Mathias Kigonya.

Emmanuel Okwi will captain Uganda for the first since taking over from Denis Onyango ( Photo: Ayub NSUBUGA )

Steven Mukwala was considered alongside Derrick Kakooza as the team’s lead strikers, Abdul Lumala, Murushid Jjuko, Taddeo Lwanga and Okwi are the players in the squad who represented Uganda in the most recent AFCON in Egypt two years ago.

South Africa also appointed a new head coach in Hugo Broos but the AFCON winning tactician will not be available for this one since he is in Belgium receiving his second COVID-19 vaccination.

Broos’ assistant and immediate deputy Cedomir Janevski was supposed to be in the dugout but tested positive for COVID-19 and got ruled out of the encounter.

Newly appointed local based assistant coach Helman Mkhalele will be responsible for the coaching duties.

Brighton and Hove Albion star Percy Tau is ruled out of this one after testing positive for COVID-19 together with Supersport United duo of Teboho Mokoena and Sipho Mbule.

Mamelodi Sundowns trio of Mosa Lebusa, Mothobi Mvala and Rivaldo Coetze are ruled out by respective injuries.

The last time Uganda and South Africa met was in the 2019 COSAFA tournament and it ended 1-1 with Dan Serunkuma scoring for the Cranes who were under the tutelage of Abdallah Mubiru and Livingstone Mbabazi.

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