The Uganda Cranes’ search for title number 15 could be finally over, when they face 2019 surprise package Eritrea in the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup finals at the StarTimes Stadium, Lugogo on Thursday, December 19th.
The last time Uganda played in the finals of the competition was 2015 in Ethiopia, defeating Rwanda 1-0 then coached by current Cranes head coach Johnathan McKinstry.
Only midfielder Muzamir Mutyaba remains from the 2015 winning team, with the vast majority of the Cranes team playing in just their first CECAFA tournament.
McKinstry and his charges will need to rewrite that bit of history and get their hands on the CECAFA trophy.
With the Irishman clearly stating his ambition of winning the CECAFA trophy. “We want to win it,” McKinstry told football-256.
“But it’s not just me but everyone in the team. Everyone talks about how Uganda has had a successful history in the region, but that’s not these boys, only Mutyaba (Muzamir) has picked up the CECAFA before.”
“So you have 19 other young guys who have never picked up a trophy for the national team, and a number of guys who until two weeks ago had never played for the Cranes’” McKinstry added.
“It’s not just me who wants to win and be successful, but everyone does. And actually what a great start it will be for the young lads,” he continued.
Eritrea will be playing in their first CECAFA final in history after they stunned defending champions Kenya 4-1in the semifinals to register their best performance in history.
The Red Sea Boys have lost just once against Uganda; falling 2-0 during their Group A clash, and McKinstry does not expect an easy game against them in the finals.
“Regardless of who wins tomorrow, I think it’s fair to say that the Eritrean performance throughout the tournament has been deserving of a team of the tournament accolade if you like,” he said.
“To date, we are the only team to beat them, but they convincingly beat Kenya. And we know tomorrow (Thursday) will be a very difficult game because they will give their best and therefore we need to be at our absolute best if we are to win,” he continued.
Uganda has won the last three finals of the completion on home soil, overall, Uganda has played in 18 finals losing only four and winning 14 titles.