Uganda Cranes target a high flying start away against heavyweight Algeria at the 5th July 1962 Stadium in their first 2023 AFCON qualifier game of Group F fixture on Saturday evening .
The Cranes missed out on the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations after failing to win their last group game against Malawi. This time round, they are hoping to return to AFCON finals, a tournament they last played in 2019 in Egypt.
Uganda head into the game unbeaten in five of their last six competitive outings, picking up three draws and two wins since the 1-0 defeat against Malawi back in March 2021.
While Uganda aim at beginning their return to the tournament on a high, national team’s head Coach Micho named a slightly attacking squad something that hasn’t been happening in the previous times since John McKinstry.
The Cranes who have scored a flood of goals in their two trial matches behind closed doors in Tunisia are still expected to go defensive in order to collect a point as they head back home to face Niger four days later at the St Mary’s Stadium in Kitende.
On the otherside Algeria who saw their hopes of securing a fifth World Cup appearance come to an end back in March when they were beaten by Central African side Cameroon on away goals rule.
Securing a 1-0 first-leg win at the Douala Stadium on March 25, returning home where they fell to a 2-1 defeat with Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Karl Toko Ekambi both scoring to send the Indomitable Lions through.
This followed their woeful run at the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations back in January, when they suffered a humiliating group-stage exit after picking up just one point from a possible nine in Group E.
Algeria who have now failed to win four of their last five games across all competitions, picking up one draw and losing three with March’s first-leg victory over Cameroon being the exception.
Djamel Belmadi’s side will fancy their chances of ending this dry spell against East Africa’s Uganda as they are currently unbeaten in 12 of their last 13 home games across all competitions, picking up an impressive 10 wins and one draw since September 2019.
Algeria will be without Manchester City star Riyad Mahrez who is injured according to reports from his club and Al Sadd’s Baghdad who is recovering from and injury.
They will have new faces in the team like of Angers goalkeeper Anthony Mandrea, the defensive trio of Akim Zedadka, Mohamed Amine Tougai, Yanis Hamache and Nice forward Billal Brahimi could be handed their senior debuts.
For Uganda head into the game with an experienced squad but will be without 27-year-old Yunus Ssentamu, who scored 20 goals to lead Vipers Sports Club to the Uganda Premier League title, has who was said to has refused to join in the camp after being thought of as a late inclusion by head coach Sredojevic.
Uganda will also have debutants like Huddersfield Town goalkeeper Giouse Bellagambi, Cincinnati’s Musa Ramadan
IBV Fullback Elvis Bwomono has also earned his call-up to the squad for the first time since March 2021.
M’Bolhi, Bedrane, Mandi, Bensebaini, Zerrouki, Bennacer, Bendebka, Ounas, Slimani, Belaili, Ghezzal
Charles Lukwago, Isaac Muleme, Bevis Mugabi, Halid Lwaliwa, Timothy Awany, Khalid Aucho, Bobosi Byaruhanga, Marvin Joseph, Allan Okello, Emma Okwi, Fahad Bayo