Crested Cranes Start Preparations for 2024 Paris Olympic Slot

Uganda National Women’s Football team, the Crested Cranes have kicked off preparations for the 2024 Paris Olympic qualifiers for the CAF edition.

The girls who currently have no head coach after FUFA declared the position vacant in March are relying on Ayubu Khalifa who by virtue of being appointed the Uganda U20 Women’s National Team head coach became the assistant coach of the senior team.

The team that entered a residential camp on Thursday conducted its first training session on Friday at the MTN Omondi Stadium in Lugogo with nearly 94 percent of the squad that was summoned.

Out of the 35 players summoned, only two are yet to join camp namely; Joan Nabirye who plays for FK Minsk in Belarus, and Phiona Nabbumba who plays for Boldklubben AF 1893 in Denmark. They are expected to arrive in the country soon.

Khalifa who was appointed Head Coach of the U-20 women’s team a few months back will however not be a new face to the squad since the majority of the players summoned have gone through his coaching expertise.

Some of the players currently in the camp like Shakira Nyinagahirwa, and Hadijja Nandago among others were part of the U-18 team which camped at FUFA Technical Center in Njeru as they prepared for the CECAFA U18 Women’s Championship only for the tournament to be postponed which forced FUFA to call off the camp.

Speaking after the crested cranes team’s first training session on Friday, Khalifa who is currently presiding over the team said that he had received a fine response from most of the players, most of whom were in pre-season.

He added that; because there is a limited timeframe to the dates of the match, the technical bench will prioritize working on the team formation and character as they wait for their opponent.

Uganda will face Rwanda in the first qualification phase with the first leg slated for 11th July at St. Mary’s Stadium while the return leg will come a week later in Rwanda. The winner on aggregate will then proceed to the next round and play Cameroon. It should be noted that the Indomitable Lionesses got a bye in the first round.

Team Captain, Ruth Aturo said that the qualifiers bring a rare opportunity for the girls who have never participated in the Olympic games, and everyone in camp is looking forward to helping the team advance to the next stage.

It should be noted that women’s football made its Olympic debut at the Atlanta Games in 1996 with an eight-team competition. Since then, it has become a regular event at the Olympics. In the upcoming 2024 Summer Olympics, twelve teams are scheduled to compete in the women’s football tournament.

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