After close to three months after the Uganda Cranes dark moment of failing to qualify for a third consecutive AFCON, interim coach Abdallah Mubiru reckons that the team is ready to challenge again.
In contrast to the scenes at the Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre when the players slumped to the ground after failing to qualify for the AFCON finals in March, Mubiru says that the road to recovery may be tough but not necessarily a long one.
The Cranes caretaker coach told Football256 that he is pleased with the standard and commitment within his young squad, noting that it is extremely better than what he witnessed ahead of the Malawi qualifier.
“There is a fresh breath within the group, it is better than what it felt like during our preparations for the qualifier against Malawi,” Mubiru told Football256 after the team touched down for an international friendly in South Africa.
“All the lads that have been involved in the training camp in Kampala and those we have travelled with here are happy and committed to what we are trying to build.”
“I can smell the difference and make a positive general assessment of both scenarios. I am delighted with the attitude of all the players. I am happy and satisfied,” he added.
Mubiru’s Cranes will play in their first international match since that 1-0 defeat to Malawi in March when they take on South Africa at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Thursday.
Mubiru named a 23-man squad as the nation continues to forge a new path especially following the retirement of several key players after the AFCON debacle.
Up to 21 players departed Entebbe International Airport on Monday evening and touched down in Johannesburg, South Africa on Tuesday morning.
They were joined by South African duo Ismail Watenga and SuperSport United’s Moses Waiswa for the final preparations before the game.
Uncapped Express FC defender Enock Walusimbi was included on the squad together with URA FC striker Steven Mukwala who was a later addition to the squad.
Five players who played at the U20 AFCON in Mauritania including striker Derrick Kakooza, midfielders Steven Sserwadda, Isma Mugulusi and defender Abdul Aziiz Kayondo also make the cut.
Simba SC midfielder Taddeo Lwanga and Paradou SC midfielder Allan Okello who only joined the team camp on Saturday are also included on the team that will be captained by Emmanuel Okwi.
Uganda Cranes travelling squad
Goalkeepers: Ismail Watenga, Mathias Kigonya, Charles Lukwago
Defenders: Paul Willa, Mustafa Kizza, Abdul Aziiz Kayondo, Walusimbi Enock, Murushid Juuko, Halid Lwaliwa, Paul Mbowa Patrick, Muhamood Hassan
Midfielders: Taddeo Lwanga, Bobosi Byaruhanga, Shafik Kagimu, Allan Okello, Moses Waiswa Ndhondhi, Abdul Lumala, Ibrahim Orit, Isma Mugulusi, Steven Sserwadda
Forwards: Emmanuel Okwi, Steven Mukwala, Derrick Kakooza