Uganda Cranes coach Milutin Micho Sredojevic has included KCCA defender Denis Iguma and Kyetume FC midfielder Nicholas Kasozi on his provisional Cranes squad that will prepare for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers next month.
The Cranes will face Kenya in their first game of the Qatar World Cup qualifying campaign on September 2 in Kenya before hosting Mali in Kampala on September 6.
Micho who returned as Cranes coach at the start of August on a three-year deal, says that despite FUFA’s ambition being qualifying for the 2026 World Cup, the Cranes can still make it out of their group and probably reach their first World Cup in Qatar 2022.
The preliminary squad includes 30 players, and has been dominated by local based players, with only three foreign based players summoned.
Pyramids FC forward Abdul Lumala, Patrick Kaddu who plays at RS Barkane in Morocco and Emmanuel Okwi who recently left Egypt’s Al Ittihad FC are the only foreign-based players who have been included on the preliminary squad.
All three are already in the country, but it is understood that another group of foreign-based players will be named to join the team camp at a later date.
There was huge anticipation for Micho’s first squad in his second reign as Cranes coach, with reports indicating that he was to persuade former Cranes goalkeeper Denis Onyango to reverse his decision of retiring from the national team.
Information also linked Micho to a secret meeting with the former Cranes captain about a possible return to the Uganda Cranes and that he was to include him in his provisional squad.
However, we wait to see if he will be finally summoned for international duty as part of the foreign-based group.
The preliminary squad includes only goalkeepers who play in the Uganda Premier League. Charles Lukwago, who is on his way out of KCCA FC, is joined by Express FC’s Joel Mutakubwa and URA FC’s Alionzi Nafian.
Bright Stars goalkeeper Simon Tamale is also maintained on the preliminary squad after he was included on the provisional squad of the international friendly against South Africa in June.
KCCA FC defender Iguma has also bounced back after he was frozen out following a laboured performance during the CHAN finals earlier in the year.
Iguma was left out of subsequent national team engagements for the AFCON qualifiers in March and the international friendly against South Africa.
But he was one of Micho’s favourite players during the coach’s first stint, going on to play in all Uganda’s three group games at the 2017 AFCON.
Murushid Juuko, Enock Walusimbi, Innocent Wafula, and Hassan Muhamood are all part of the group together with Hippos trio Kenneth Ssemakula, Gavin Kizito and Aziizi Kayondo.
Kyetume FC midfielder Kasozi has also bounced back as part of the preliminary squad. Kasozi last involvement with the Cranes came in December 2019 as part of the team that won the CECAFA Cup in Kampala.
Since then, the midfielder has struggled for form at club level, with a move away from KCCA to Kyetume not helping as the club was also relegated at the end of the season.
KCCA midfielder Gift Ali Abubakar meanwhile will be bubbling after receiving his first Cranes call up in a long while.
Ali had constant shouts for a national team call up but was constantly overlooked by former coach Johnathan McKinstry who made it clear that he was not a fan of the midfielder.
Mbarara City striker Jude Ssemugabi has been included among the forwards in the preliminary squad that also includes UPL top scorer Yunus Ssentamu and Express FC’s Martin Kizza.
The team will start residential training on Monday, August 16, at a venue that will be communicated later. The camp will go on up to Saturday, before the team departs for a foreign camp in Jordan.
While in Jordan, the Cranes will have two friendly games against the Syria National Team coming on August 23 and August 26.
The team will then depart for Ethiopia on August 27, for another friendly game on August 29, with the foreign based group of players joining the team then.
The Cranes contingent will then travel to Nairobi, Kenya on August 31, ahead of their first 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier game against the Harambee Stars.
Uganda is in Group E of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers alongside Kenya, Rwanda and Mali.
Uganda Cranes Preliminary Squad
Goalkeepers: Joel Mutakubwa (Express FC), Charles Lukwago (KCCA FC), Simon Tamale (Soltilo Bright Stars FC), Nafian Alionzi (URA FC)
Defenders: Enock Walusimbi (Express FC), Innocent Wafula (Mbarara City FC), Paul Willa (Vipers SC), Eric Ssenjobe (Police FC), Aziizi Kayondo (Vipers SC), Halid Lwaliwa (Vipers SC), Murushid Juuko (Express FC) Garvin Kizito Mugweri (SC Villa), Kenneth Ssemakula (SC Villa), Hassan Muhamood (Police FC), Denis Iguma (KCCA FC)
Midfielders: Nicholas Kasozi (Kyetume FC), Bobosi Byaruhanga (Vipers SC), Muzamiru Mutyaba (Express FC), Shafik Kuchi Kagimu (URA FC), Ali Abubaker Gift (KCCA FC), Ibrahim Orit (Vipers SC), Milton Karisa (Vipers SC), Abdu Lumala (Pyramids FC)
Forwards: Richard Basangwa (Vipers SC), Steven Dese Mukwala (URA FC), Patrick Henry Kaddu (RS Berkene), Emmanuel Arnold Okwi (Unattached), Yunus Ssentamu (Vipers SC), Jude Ssemugabi (Mbarara City FC), Martin Kizza (Express FC)