Watenga humbled by Cranes return after four year absence

By Edwin Kyle Kule

Ismail Watenga has admitted that he feels humbled, proud and happy to be called once again to the national team ahead of the friendly encounter with South Africa’s Bafana Bafana on Thursday. 

The Chippa United goalkeeper last featured first featured the Uganda Cranes on May 18, 2014, in Antananarivo during the Africa Cup of Nations first round qualifiers against Madagascar in a game that ended 2-1 in favour of the hosts.

But was last seen in national colours on 12th, November 2017 in the one all draw against DR Congo in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

“I am happy and proud to represent my country,” Watenga told FUFA Media after Wednesday’s training session at SAFA Technical Center.

“I am glad to have gotten another chance to play for the national team. I am happy to work with my teammates. I feel the team is ready, and all players are motivated for the hard task ahead,” he added.

Watenga received his first national team call up at the age of 18 years, 7months and 18days under former Cranes coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojević on Jan 2, 2014.

He played the opening match; a 2-2 draw with Mali at the 2014 African Nations Championship (CHAN) before suffering a high injury midway the game as Uganda bowed out of the group stages. 

“Since I joined the team yesterday (Tuesday), I feel like I am home, and it is beautiful to be with my brothers,” Watenga elaborated. 

“The training was so good so I feel proud and honoured to be among the few chosen to represent my country,” he concluded.

The 26-year-old goalkeeper has impressed in the Dstv Premiership conceding only six goals in the nine games, among which he has bagged five clean sheets, and the same form will be required as he serves the nation.

Uganda Cranes 23-man Squad

Goalkeepers: Ismael Watenga, Mathias Kigonya, Charles Lukwago

Defenders: Patrick Paul Mbowa, Paul Willa, Halid Lwalilwa, Aziz Kayondo, Enock Walusimbi, Mustafa Kizza, Murushid Juuko, Hassan Muhamood

Midfielders: Bobosi Byaruhanga, Shafik Kagimu, Moses Waiswa, Taddeo Lwanga, Allan Okello, Isma Mugulusi, Steven Sserwadda, Ibrahim Orit, Abdu Lumala

Forwards: Derrick Kakooza, Emmanuel Okwi, Steven Mukwaala

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