Uganda Cranes head coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic summoned a 35-man Uganda Cranes provisional squad for the African Nations Championship (CHAN) on Tuesday.
Micho was quick to note that there were priorities in the naming of the squad as players that helped the team to qualify for the tournament due to take place in Algeria next year were considered first.
“The fact is that we have maintained some of the players that qualified the team for the final tournament,” Micho said in a press conference at FUFA House in Mengo.
“We have looked at the aspect of inconsistency while analyzing this level of competition and realized that we must have players that have consistently been part of the team throughout the qualifiers.”
“You can not remove all the players that qualified you and you bring in totally new players, therefore we have maintained several players of the first team who played in the qualifying game against Tanzania.”
“Impactful players who were with the team during the preparations for the qualifiers are also still with us while we have added over 16 players who are mostly from the U23 and U20 squads.”
Goalkeepers Nafian Alionzi, Mathias Muwanga, and Emmanuel Kalyowa, defenders Kenneth Ssemakula, James Begisa, Bright Vuni, and Derrick Ndahiro, and midfielders Marvin Joseph Youngman, Siraje Ssentamu, Titus Ssematimba, Saidi Kyeyune, and Moses Waiswa, and forward Milton Karisa, Travis Mutyaba, Rogers Mato, Moses Aliro, and Najib Yiga were all in the qualifiers and have been re-summoned.
Hillary Mukundane, Begisa, Ndahiro, Sssmakula, Yiga, Abdul Karim Watambala, Bright Anukani, Mutyaba, Ssematimba, and Mato were part of the U23 squad and have as well been called in the CHAN provisional squad.
Ssematimba was also the player of the tournament as the Uganda Hippos defended the CECAFA U20 championship in Sudan.
Uganda Cranes eliminated neighbors Tanzania 4-0 on aggregate to qualify for their sixth straight CHAN tourney.
Mutyaba scored the only goal of the game as the Cranes edged the Kilimanjaro Stars 1-0 in Dar es Salaam in the first leg, while Waiswa, Mato, and Richard Basangwa were on target during a 3-0 victory at Kitende in the second leg.
Basangwa is amongst the players who were part of the squad but later moved on to ply their trade overseas making them ineligible for CHAN it being a tournament for players who play in the local leagues.
The other players who left are Gavin Kizito Mugweri, Ibrahim Juma, Bobosi Byaruhanga, Simon Peter Oketch, and Oscar Mawa.
In all the previous six appearances in CHAN, the Cranes have never made it beyond the group stages but Micho is optimistic that they will break the jinx this time around.
“History is the teacher of life and I believe we have learned from past experiences because we did not get enough points to progress and now we want to work very hard and have the unity of purpose to show what we are capable of doing.”
“Driven by the confidence of qualifying for the tournament several times, and the support from FUFA we want to represent the country in the best possible way by qualifying for the knockout stages for the first time.”
The Cranes will enter the residential camp on Wednesday at the Cranes Paradise Hotel and as part of the preparations, they will travel to Tunisia towards the tournament.
Micho’s team is pitted in Group B alongside Senegal, Ivory Coast, and the Democratic Republic of Congo and will kick start their tourney against the latter on January 14th.
The seventh edition of the tournament which features national teams consisting of players currently playing in the local leagues will run from January 13th to February 4th, 2023 in Algeria.
Morocco are the current champions and they have won the competition the most times twice level with DR Congo.
The 35-man provisional squad
Goalkeepers: Alionzi Nafian (URA FC), Joel Mutakubwa (Modern Gaddafi FC), Jack Komakech (Vipers SC), Mathias Muwanga (Onduparaka FC), Emmanuel Kalyowa (BUL FC)
Defenders: James Begisa (URA FC), Derrick Ndahiro (URA FC), Isa Mubiru (Vipers SC), Ashraf Mandela (Vipers SC), Hilary Mukundane (Vipers SC), Kenneth Semakula (SC Villa), Filbert Obenchan (KCCA FC), Geoffrey Wasswa (KCCA FC), Bright Vuni (Arua Hill SC), Fred Gift (SC Villa), Arthur Kiggundu (Express FC), Grant Matsiko (Wakiso Giants FC)
Midfielders: Siraje Ssentamu (Vipers SC), Karim Watambala (Vipers SC), Marvin Joseph Youngman (Vipers SC), Moses Waiswa (KCCA FC), Saidi Kyeyune (URA FC), Hussein Ssenoga (Express FC)
Wingers: Mohamed Ssenoga Kagawa (KCCA FC), Rogers Mato Kassim (KCCA FC), Moses Aliro (Wakiso Giants FC), Travis Mutyaba (SC Villa), Milton Karisa (Vipers SC), Ibrahim Orit (Vipers SC)
Forwards: Najib Yiga (Vipers SC), Bright Anukani (Vipers SC), Ibrahim Kasule (Wakiso Giants FC), Titus Ssematimba (Wakiso Giants FC), Frank Sebuufu (Wakiso Giants FC), Cromwel Rwothomio (Vipers SC)