Uganda Cranes in final bend before Qatar World Cup campaign

Work Out. Uganda Cranes defender Martin KIzza (R) and Shafiq Kagimu (2nd R) take on teammates; Arthur Kiggundu (L) and Muzamir Mutyaba. PHOTO/EDDIE CHICCO

What you need to know:

  • That East African derby is due next Thursday, with Mali - who open at home to Rwanda - coming to Kampala four days later.

After close to two weeks of intensive training in Kampala, the Uganda Cranes flew out to Ethiopia this morning as they engaged the final gear before a compact run of matches.

Six potentially fierce encounters in a space of just three months await coach Micho Sredojevic’s men, starting with the daunting trip to Nairobi to face rivals Kenya.

Four derby encounters 
That East African derby is due next Thursday, with Mali - who open at home to Rwanda - coming to Kampala four days later.  Group E is surely an interesting one, with Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda each involved in four East African derby matches. 

The Cranes will end their group games away to Mali in November, and will go into that one either looking for a result to top the group, or simply to honour it. Micho will hope for the former. But with even the first World Cup qualifying ball yet to be killed, there is no need to get ahead of one’s self. 

Kenya is the first job, and given that Uganda’s last visit there in a qualifier of similar magnitude ended goalless over a decade ago, the Cranes will expect the neighbours to bring it on.

And to fine-tune for that, Micho took his boys to Ethiopia to face the hosts this Sunday before Kenya and Uganda’s anthems are played out in Nairobi.

Sierra Leone possibly
The Cranes were supposed to have three friendlies before facing Kenya, two of them against Syria in Jordan.
But Jordan Covid protocols ruled out the two encounters. 

However, Micho did hint at still squeezing in another friendly on top of Ethiopia. “It could possibly be against Sierra Leone,” he told Daily Monitor.  

Sierra Leone arrived in Ethiopia on Tuesday for a friendly against the hosts today, and it is their availability that Micho is counting on as both teams will benefit.Whatever the case, at least one against Ethiopia is guaranteed mileage for the players ahead of the duel with the Kenyans.

Talking of the Harambee Stars, coach Jacob Ghost Mulee caused some uproar in Kenya when he omitted veteran Victor Wanyama among other stars from his squad to face Uganda.

But the experienced tactician is confident his assembled team has enough to deal with the Cranes.

Fifa WC-Qatar qualifiers 

September, October, November 2021, March 2022
Group E fixtures
Match Day 1, September 2
Kenya vs. Uganda
Match Day 2, September 7
Uganda vs.  Mali
Match Day 3, October
Rwanda vs.  Uganda
Match Day 4, October
Uganda vs.  Rwanda
Match Day 5, November
Uganda vs.  Kenya
Match Day 6, November
Mali vs.  Uganda
Playoffs, 
March 2022

amwanguhya@ug.nationmedia.com