Hippos Intensifies Preparations for AFCON U-20

The Uganda National Under 20 team, the Hippos has intensified preparations for the forthcoming U-20 Africa Cup of Nations scheduled to take place in Egypt from February 19 to March 11, 2023.

The team which is camped at FUFA Technical Center in Njeru started preparations on January 11.  They have played at least four build-up games with Jinja North United, Busoga United, and BUL FC which they have all won.

On Saturday, they defeated Bul FC 2-0 which was the second time the two teams played at the FUFA Technical Center, Njeru in the Uganda Hippos build-up series. 

Speaking about the status of the team’s preparations, the head coach Jackson Mayanja sounded confident with the response of his players during preparations. “These guys have been working so hard, so I have hope a bit, but we need to continue working hard,” he said.

He added that; while there are some technical things that are lacking, the players have already activated the tournament moods. 

After completing a series of friendlies in Njeru, Mayanja is likely to trim the squad to 35 players and relocate to Cranes Paradise Hotel, Kisaasi.

Uganda is in Group B alongside Central Africa Republic, South Sudan, and Congo Brazzaville, a group Mayanja earlier described as “a very tricky one” and preferred to be in group A, which has Egypt, Senegal, and Nigeria.

He, therefore, opted for enough preparations because the majority of the Hippos players who are affiliated with different clubs in the domestic league do not get enough playing time, and need enough preparations to boost their fitness levels.  

The AFCON U-20 will also act as a qualifying competition for the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2023, with the top four teams (semi-finalists) qualifying for the tournament, which will be held in Indonesia.

Mayanja told URN earlier that his primary goal is to get the Hippos to the World Cup regardless of their performance at the African Cup of Nations.

Uganda Hippos qualified for the African Cup of Nations after retaining the CECAFA U-20 Zonal qualifier by defeating South Sudan 2-1 in the finals in November 2022 in Khartoum, Sudan.

Uganda will return to the AFCON U-20 finals with a silver medal from the previous edition, which was hosted in Mauritania, and in the same tournament Uganda Hippos qualified for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2021 but FIFA canceled the World Cup tournament that was slated for May 20 to June 12th, 20021 due to COVID-19.

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