Uganda Hippos Ready for AFCON U-20

The TotalEnergies Under-2 0 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) kick off on Sunday with the opening match between hosts Egypt and Mozambique at Cairo International Stadium. 

The tournament organized by the Confederation of African Football- CAF, features only players born on 1st January 2003 or later. It will be held in three stadiums including Cairo International Stadium, Suez Canal Stadium, and Alexandria Stadium, and will run until 11 March 2023.

This year’s edition has attracted 12 teams which are divided into three groups each consisting of four teams. The top two teams from each group will advance to the quarter-finals along with the two best 3rd placed teams.

Uganda is placed in Group B alongside Central African Republic, South Sudan, and Congo Brazzaville. Despite being considered an easier group by football observers, Head Coach Jackson Mayanja told URN in an earlier interview that it is a tricky group compared to Group B which consists of Egypt, Senegal, and Nigeria. 

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

The Hippos who started preparations for the tournament earlier in January left for Egypt a week back for a series of training sessions before the tournament kicks off. They have since played one friendly match against the host nation Egypt which ended in a one-all-draw.  

According to a communication released by FUFA, the team will conduct their last training on Sunday at Mercure Play Ground at 2:30 pm ahead of their Group B opening match against the Central African Republic on Monday at Suez Canal Authority stadium, Ismailia.

The U-20 AFCON will also serve as a qualifier for the Under-20 World Cup 2023, with the best four teams (semi-finalists) qualifying for the tournament later in Indonesia. Uganda’s team will just need to reach the semifinals to clinch a place in the World Cup. 

Uganda returns to the AFCON U-20 tournament with a proven track record having reached the final of the last edition held in Mauritania and qualifying for the FIFA U-20 World Cup, unfortunately, FIFA canceled the World Cup tournament that was slated for May 20 to June 12th, 2021 due to COVID-19.

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