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Okwi optimistic Micho’s second stint will be more successful than the first

By Brian Aheebwa
Uganda Cranes captain Emmanuel Okwi during training at Lugogo | FUFA Media

During Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojević’s first stint in 2013-2017, Emmanuel Okwi must have never thought of being Uganda Cranes captain.

But with the Cranes captains ranging from Andrew Mwesigwa, Geoffrey Massa, Dennis Onyango and Hassan Wasswa all retired, Micho’s second stint finds Okwi as skipper.

And the 28-year-old is backing the Serbian to take it on from where he stopped during his first spell.

“I believe he has learnt a lot from the time he has not been here, and we are looking forward to what he has in stock for us this time around,” Okwi told the media after the Tuesday morning training session at Lugogo.

“He is a coach who knows the country, the players and what Ugandans want well enough that is already a tick for him, and I expect him to do more better things in addition to what he did before he left.”

 “There are good signs of him already, and we are looking forward to working with him and implement what he tells us on the pitch,” he added.

Okwi was part of Micho’s squad that made history in 2017 when the Cranes qualified for the Africa Cup of Nation in Gabon, a feat Uganda had last achieved in 1978.

With Micho gone, Okwi and the Cranes built on what they had achieved with the former to qualify for a second successive AFCON tournament in 2019 in Egypt under the reign of Frenchman Sebastien Desabre and went all the way into the last 16 before losing 1-0 to finalist Senegal.

However, Okwi was still part of the Cranes team that failed to qualify for the 2021 AFCON tournament.

Micho’s first assignment after his return is to try and help the Cranes make history and qualify for their first-ever World Cup.

A 30-man squad full of youth is already in camp as preparation for the games against Kenya and Mali in September continue.

“Everyone looks sharp and ready, and therefore we are hoping for something positive from the friendlies we are going to play and also in the qualifiers,” Okwi noted.

“We are having plenty of youngsters who are just coming into the team with a lot to prove, but all I can say is we are not putting them under any pressure. We shall only guide them as senior players to see that we get something positive out of them.”

The Cranes will head out to Jordan at the end of the week, where they will be joined by several other professional players and play two friendlies against Syria before travelling back to Africa to play against Ethiopia in their last build-up game before they face Kenya in Nairobi on September 2.

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)

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