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CHAN 2020: McKinstry adamant Cranes can still qualify for tournament quarter-finals

By Shafic Kiyaga
Uganda Cranes coach Johnathan McKinstry and his assistant Abdallah Mubiru | Photo courtesy of FUFA Media/ Xtratime Sports (Darren McKinstry)

Uganda Cranes coach Johnathan McKinstry remains convinced that his team can still qualify for the quarter-finals of the African Nations Championship (CHAN) even after Friday’s shock defeat to Togo.

Defender Paul Mbowa scored in his own net, with Saidi Kyeyune restoring parity for the Cranes with a stunning long-range effort but Yendoutie Nane produced a worthy reply to hand his team a 2-1 victory.

The win was the first for Togo who are playing in their first CHAN tournament since the championship was inaugurated back in 2009, while it extended Uganda’s winless run in the tournament finals to 10 games.

That stacks up pretty bad against the Cranes who have crashed out from the group stages in each of their last four appearances at CHAN.

However, McKinstry insists that there is no need to panic and that his side can still get the required result against defending champions Morocco and progress to the quarter-finals.

“Our target at the start was to go as deep into the tournament,” McKinstry told media after the game before adding; “And our target at this exact moment is to still go deep into the tournament.”

“If we can reproduce the display tonight especially in the second half and add a little bit more quality in terms of finding the finishing touch, we can get the result against Morocco.”

“So, if that happens, we will be in the quarter-finals and we will be aiming for even better,” he explained.

The Irishman also believes that he can trust his largely inexperienced squad to go ahead and achieve the objective even with the odds stuck up against them.

According to the 35-year-old, the team does not have time to sulk but advised that they should keep their heads high and carry the confidence that they can upset the defending champions.

“People are disappointed now; everyone is after the loss, but we know we have to keep our heads high and know that we have the quality to go and cause Morocco problems.”

“Ultimately, the players who are here this year are completely new. I think we have three players who were here for the tournament two years ago, so it’s a very different team,” he said.

McKinstry knows it will be as tough against Morocco who lead Group C with four points, ahead of Togo, Rwanda on three and two points respectively and Uganda with one.

Uganda faces the defending champions in their final group game at the Stade de la Reunification in Douala on January 26 and will need victory if they are to stand a chance of progress.

Togo on the other hand play against Rwanda in their final group game on Tuesday, January 26, in Limbe.

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