Uganda Hippos to Start Early Preps for AFCON

Jackson Mayanja, the head coach of the Hippos, the national Under 20 team has summoned a provisional squad comprising 50 players to begin preparations for the forthcoming U-20 Africa Cup of Nations scheduled to place in Egypt from February 19 February to March 11, 2023.    

He announced the players at a media briefing at the FUFA Complex in Mengo Tuesday. Uganda is in Group B alongside Central Africa Republic, South Sudan, and Congo Brazzaville. Although Uganda’s group looked a little easier on paper to many football observers, Mayanja told URN in an earlier interview that it is very tricky and he would prefer to be in group A, which has Egypt, Senegal, and Nigeria.    

The team will enter a residential camp Wednesday at the FUFA Technical center in Njeru where they will be assessed through different training drills to determine who is fit for the final squad. Asked why the team had to start the training earlier than expected, Mayanja said that the majority of the players who are attached to different clubs in the domestic league do not get enough playing time, therefore need enough preparations to boost their fitness levels.    

The AFCON U-20 will also serve as a qualifier for the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2023 with the best four teams (semi-finalists) qualifying for the tournament to take place in Indonesia. 

Mayanja said his only mission is to have the Hippos in the World cup regardless of the team’s 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 stopping South Sudan 2-1 in the finals played in Khartoum, Sudan in November 2022. 

Uganda will return to the AFCON U-20 finals with a pedigree having won silver in the last edition held in Mauritania. But Mayanja claims that this is a different side with new players as opposed to the generation of players who competed in the last edition.  

In 2021, the Uganda Hippos qualified for the FIFA U-20 World Cup after reaching the final of the AFCON U-20 in Mauritania. However, FIFA canceled the World Cup tournament that was slated for May 20 to June 12th, 20021 due to COVID-19.  

The team summoned has goalkeepers including Abdu Magada, Kamya Shamulan, Ssenyondwa Denis Kaala, Nsumba Venacious, and Oyo Delton. Defenders include Haruna Lukwago, Opiru Justine, Mpanga Sula, Ibrahim Juma Ssemayange Simon Kato, Jimmy Ndalambi, Samson Kasozi, Ronald Madoi, Kakogwe Apollo, Rogers Torach, Simon Mukisa, Enyou Allan, Kibande Cyrus, and Kitariko Kiano.

Midfielders include Saidi Mayanja, Ivan Irinimbabazi, Frank Katongole, Allan Kiggundu, Kyazze Faizo, Mugulusi Isma, Jemba AbduShakur Ramsey, Titus Ssematimba, Travis Mutyaba, Faisal Wabyoona, Andrew Kawooya, Mutebi Hakim, Nyanzi Marvin, Mukisa Owen, and Christian Mulindwa.

Forwards include Ibrahim Kasinde, Rogers Mugisha, Kakande Patrick, Jonah Hassan Mubiru, Ivan Asaba Umar Lutalo, Issa Bugembe, Kyeyune Abas, Oscar Mawa, Emmanuel Mukisa, Magogo Shafiq, Dembe John Paul, Shaun Senkubuge, Alpha Ssali, and Simeo Ssevume

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