How Khalifah expects to cure lack of friendly games for U17 team ahead of crunch qualifier

New challenges call for new solutions. With the COVID-19 pandemic bringing the world to its knees, it is not business as usual.

In the context of the Uganda U17 national team who have a crunch FIFA World Cup qualifier against Cameroon coming up, the biggest challenge is how they prepare for the double header, with football yet to be allowed to resume in the country.

While there may be hope that football will finally be given the green light to restart as the government continues to ease lockdown measures, how the U17 girls’ team prepares still remains unclear.

Head coach Ayub Khalifah does not expect to have his players in prime shape like he should have had five months ago, but he has devised a unique plan to ensure the players have as much match action as possible ahead of the game.

Khalifah will not have the liberty of scheduling friendly and test games for the team like he would have preferred.

And for him, the plan is to have as many players in camp who will not only give him diverse options, but also the ability to organise as many trial matches for the players.

“I wanted 40 players and not actually the 35,” Ayub told FUFA FM before adding.

“Without the vaccine, the pandemic is still real and therefore when we go to the camp, we shall have to maintain the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and we shall have no access to the public.”

“Trial matches will not happen. That’s why we decided to call a bigger number close to three teams so that they can compete against each other as we use the games as trial matches to correct mistakes,” he said.

The coach said that while fitness is a concern, he expects the girls to improve quickly because they have been following them up during the lockdown period.

Mirembe Devine from Gafford Ladies, Gift Nasasira from She Maroons, Winnie Kwatulira from Jinja United, Aucho Kagongo from St Noa, Ritah Mushimire from Kawempe Muslims and Kanyita Naigaga from Taggy High are the new faces on the team.

Uganda eliminated Ethiopia and Tanzania in the preliminary and first round respectively and it next will play Cameroon in the playoff qualifying round of the 2021 FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup qualifiers.

The first leg will be played in Kampala, between October 31 and November 2, 2020 with the return leg happening 14 days later in Cameroon.

Provisional Squad

Goalkeepers: Daphine Nyayenga (Uganda Martyrs High School), Joan Namusisi (Isra Soccer Academy) Zulaika Ngamita (Asubo Gafford Ladies), Gift Nasasira (Maroons WFC)

Defenders: Grace Aluka (Kawempe Muslim Ladies), Samalie Nakacwa (Kawempe Muslim Ladies), Sumaya Komuntale (Tooro Queens), Bira Naddunga (Olila High School), Gillian Akadinda (Olila High School), Gloria Namugerwa (Uganda Martyrs High School), Stella Musubuka (Kawempe Muslim Ladies), Patricia Akiror (Ajax Queens FC), Winnie Kwatulira (Jinja United FC), Devine Mirembe (Asubo Gafford Ladies FC)

Midfielders: Shamira Nalugya (Kawempe Muslim Ladies), Shakira Nyinagahirwa (Kawempe Muslim Ladies), Kevin Nakacwa (Uganda Martyrs High School), Maureen Nangonzi (Ajax Queens FC), Aucho Kagongo (St. Noa), Ruth Nyakato (Tooro Queens FC), Phiona Matama (Watoto Girls), Sumaya Kyomuhendo (Isra Soccer Academy), Sumaya Tibazalika (Wakiso)

Forwards: Juliet Nalukenge (Kawempe Muslim Ladies), Zaina Nandede (She Kataka FC), Fauzia Najjemba (Kampala Queens), Hadijah Nandago (Kawempe Muslim Ladies), Margaret Kunihira (Kawempe Muslim Ladies), Catherine Nagadya (Uganda Martyrs High School), Zaitun Namaganda (Taggy High School), Eva Nagayi (Rines WFC), Ritah Mushimire (Kawempe Muslim Ladies), Kamyati Naigaga (Taggy High School), Esther Adokole (She Kataka FC), Brenda Munyana (Uganda Martyrs High School).

Head Coach: Ayub Khalifah Kiyingi.

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