Hamza Lutalo, the head coach of the Uganda National Under-17 football team, the Cubs is optimistic that his team is ready for their semi-final against Somalia Wednesday in the ongoing CECAFA Zonal Qualifiers for next year’s U17 Africa Cup of Nations.
The tournament, which was delayed by three days has since reached the semi-final stage. The first semi-final will be between Uganda and Somalia before Tanzania take on South Sudan. The semi-final clash between the two countries promises to be a tough contest as they battle to reach the finals of the tournament and consequently book a slot in the AFCON finals.
The tournament is serving as the region’s qualifier for the U-17 African Cup of Nations with the two finalists earning direct qualification to the continental showpiece, which will be held in Algeria in April 2023.
Uganda maintained top-class performance in the group stages after seeing off Burundi 4-0 before defeating South Sudan 4-1 in the second group B match to help them storm the semifinals while their semi-final opponent Somalia finished second in group A below Tanzania.
Team Uganda had its last training session Tuesday under the stewardship of Coach Hamza Lutalo. Speaking after the training, Lutalo said he has been focusing on strengthening the finishing of his strikers in the final third and that he believes they have been equipped with what it takes to win.
Uganda Cubs maintains its pedigree as the defending champions and they are attempting to defend their title, which they won in Tanzania in 2019. Since the last edition of the U-17 AFCON got canceled, the 2023 edition will be the first edition of the Africa U-17 Cup of Nations to have expanded to 12 teams instead of eight. Each of the six zones received two spots in the final tournament.