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Uganda Cranes to Play CHAN Without Two Crucial Players

Two key players have been ruled out of the final Uganda Cranes squad as the team prepares for the forthcoming African Nations Championship-CHAN. They are defensive midfielder Siraje Sentamu and offensive midfielder Najib Yiga.

The duo was part of the team in the build-up games that took place in Tunisia in the past few days. While Coach Micho might get Yiga’s replacement from the available squad without much difficulty, Sentamu’s replacement might be tricky for the Serbian tactician considering the team’s dearth of defensive midfielders.

Despite admitting that the absence of the two players is a major blow to the team, Micho is still confident that the available players have had enough time to prepare for the competition and can attempt to fill the gaps left by the two injured players. 

During their stay in Tunisia, the team completed three build-up games against Cameroon, Sudan, and Mali in preparation for CHAN but failed to earn maximum points in any of the games they played. The team scored three goals and conceded the same number. 

Their first game ended in a two-all tie against Sudan, followed by a one-all draw against Cameroon and a 0-0 draw with Mali in a dull match on Sunday. This is however merely a continuation of a persistent problem of conceding many goals and scoring less, which has for a long time hindered Uganda’s advancement in international competitions, particularly in CHAN, where Uganda has never advanced past the group stages in any of the five tournaments where they have participated.

Uganda Cranes have had a poor record at these events, scoring only ten goals and conceding 24 raising concern ahead of their sixth edition. Given the dismal statistics from previous championships, Micho and his players face a difficult assignment in the next few days to construct a competitive team capable of defying the odds and reaching the knockout stages for the first time. 

Despite the average run, Micho is confident that the friendly games helped the technical bench with the building structure of the team and they are only left with polishing the team to get ready for the tournament.

Ahmed Hussein, the FUFA Communications Director told URN that after concluding their camp in Tunisia, the contingent departed Tunisia on Wednesday morning for Ben Mustapha Aouda Hotel, Annaba, Algeria where they will be based for the tournament. 

They will open their account with DR Congo on January 14th, 2022 before playing Senegal on the 18th and Ivory Coast, four days later. The CHAN tournament is played between Africa’s best national teams, but exclusively using players who are currently competing in domestic leagues and have qualified to compete in the current season. 

Uganda will be competing in the sixth consecutive tournament after featuring in 2011, 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2020 editions. The 23-man squad has three Goalkeepers including Nafian Alionzi, Joel Mutakubwa, and Jack Komakech. Defenders include Ashiraf Mandela, James Begisa Penz, Derrick Ndahiro, Isa Mubiru, Hillary Mukundane, Kenneth Semakula, Geoffrey Wasswa, and Gift Fred. 

Midfielders include Marvin Joseph Youngman (Vipers SC), Abdu Karim Watambala, and Moses Waiswa while forwards include team captain Milton Karisa, Ibrahim Orit, Travis Mutyaba, Moses Aliro, Rogers Mato, Bright Anukani, Titus Ssematimba, Frank Ssebufu, and Nelson Senkatuka.

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