CHAN 2020: Lwaliwa, Shaban, Nafian return to Cranes training after testing negative for COVID-19

Johnathan McKinstry has been handed a major boost ahead of the Uganda Cranes’ opening game at CHAN against Rwanda with Halid Lwaliwa, Muhammad Shaban and goalkeeper Alionzi Nafian all returning to training.

Lwaliwa, Shaban and Nafian together with goalkeeping coach Sadiq Wassa were forced to self-isolate after testing positive for coronavirus ahead of Uganda’s last game against Niger at the pre-CHAN tournament.

Additional reports from Cameroon also indicate that two of the Cranes stars who were dropped from the squad Steven Mukwala and Joseph Ssemujju also tested positive for the coronavirus.

But the trio were allowed to join the rest of the group on Tuesday and were involved in the team’s morning training session held in Douala.

The timing for their return could not be better for McKinstry who has six days to fine tune the squad for their first game in Group C against Rwanda’s Amavubi Stars on Monday, January 18.

Mckinstry saw his side win two build up games against Zambia and Niger and draw the other against hosts Cameroon in their three build up game.

Meanwhile, as the Cranes who also modelled their new Umbro Kits without the trio last week wind up their preparations, McKinstry will be focussing on probably finding that extra one or two percent.

“It is just an opportunity for us to fine tune the team,” McKinstry who will be the fourth deifferent coach to take charge of the Cranes at CHAN revealed.

“We are looking at opportunities to add one percent here or two percent there. There is no major thing we want to change at this stage.”

“The countdown is on and the boys are in good spirits. It is about adding those finer details so that we are fully prepared,” the Irishman added.

The Cranes who are currently under a private camp in Douala will be officially welcomed into the CHAN bubble on Wednesday where they will undergo further coronavirus tests, and McKinstry will hope there are no further disturbances due to COVID.

Apart from Rwanda, CHAN defending champions Morocco and tournament debutants Togo will pose Uganda’s other opposition in Group C.

Uganda will face Togo on January 22 and then Morocco in their final group game on January 26 and will hope that they will have accumulated enough points to secure a place in the tournament’s quarter-finals for the first time.

Uganda Cranes CHAN Squad

Goalkeepers: Charles Lukwago, Joel Mutakubwa, Nafian Alionzi, Tom Ikara

Defenders: Eric Ssenjobe, Aziz Kayondo, Paul Willa, Denis Iguma, Halid Lwaliwa, Mustafa Mujuzi, Patrick Mbowa, Hassan Muhammad

Midfielders: Shafiq Kagimu, Tony Mawejje, Bobosi Byaruhanga, Karim Watambala, Saidi Kyeyune, Bright Anukani

Forwards: Ben Ocen, Brian Aheebwa, Vianne Ssekajugo, Joachim Ojera, Milton Karisa, Ibrahim Orit, Muhammad Shaban

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