The CECAFA senior challenge cup kicks-off this Saturday, the 7th December 2019, and the games are to be played at the StarTimes Stadium, Lugogo and Namboole so far as the confirmed venues.
As Uganda readies for the 2019 CECAFA senior challenge cup with the final squad already announced, who are the players to start and which team should we expect to have the most numbers?
The Touchline Sports’ Henry Peter Mutebi gives a sneak peek on how Cranes starting XI could be assembled by head coach Jonathan Macknistry.
1. Charles Lukwago | KCCA FC
The KCCA FC skipper is expected to start in between the posts going by his form and the contribution he’s had towards his team’s resurgence from the bottom half of StarTimes Uganda Premier League to the second position by the first round.
When compared to his counter-parts, Kyetume’s Joel Mutakubwa you would say he’s had better performance and could be the front runner in McKinstry’s pecking order.
The former Proline FC’s shot-stopper has in addition been near the national team setup on more occasions and levels including being number-one during the COSAFA Tournament and the recently concluded CHAN qualifiers.
2. Paul Willa | Vipers SC
There has been a Vipers player in the Cranes draft for this position in particular for at least more than 5-years now. Safe to say this is a Vipers’ position? From Nicolas Wadada to now Paul Willa, the former Police FC right-back has at least been consistent enough at his team during the first round.
Willa has already featured in the position for the cranes during the CHAN qualifiers. The industrious right-back has an edge to start ahead of URA’s Ashraf Mandela.
3. Kizza Mustafa | KCCA FC
Kizza Mustafa – believed to be the Cranes’ future left-back is, without doubt, the first player that comes to mind when the call for the position comes. Like Vipers on the right side of the defense, KCCA FC has dominated the left side of the defense for a while now and if Kizza successfully pick-up from Joseph Ochaya, the Club’s academy graduate the latter who also assumed the role while at the same Club, a few years back.
Kizza has been instrumental for his team, scoring 4 goals in the first half of the 2019-20 SUPL and contributing to a number of assists. Mustafa, like all the back four, has also been close to the National team setups and also featured on the left of defense when Uganda was qualifying for the 2020 Cameroon CHAN tournament.
4. John Revita | KCCA FC
The 3rd player in the Cranes’ back-four, arguably the prototype that wows Mike Mutebi the most is expected to start in the center-partnership.
Since moving from Express FC, Revita’s stakes for the national team have risen so fast that he has already started featuring for the different National teams. The former beach soccer player has featured in almost all of KCCA FC’s games this first round of 2019-20 StarTimes Uganda Premier League.
Revita’s level of maturity in defense should help him edge-out competitors like Proline’s Mujuzi Mustafa and URA FC’s Paul Patrick Mbowa.
5. Halid Lwaliwa | Vipers SC
The Vipers and Cranes skipper needs no introduction at all. The striker cum defender Halid Lwaliwa has attained a level of responsibility like no other in this team and should have no competition for a place in the team.
He was feared injured during his club’s final StarTimes Uganda Premier League first-round game against Maroons but recovered and will be giving Mckinstry’s team the mantle to defend the title.
6. Nicholas Kasozi | KCCA FC
Perhaps not a preferred starter in the position when it comes to Mike Mutebi’s team. However, the former SC Villa midfielder has proven beyond doubt to become a Cranes darling and head coach Jonathan Macknistry is expected to place him in the defensive midfield for Uganda. He has also been part of McKinstry’s set-up for a while now
7. Muzamir Mutyaba | KCCA FC
Like Kasozi, Mutyab may probably not be the best of options for Mike Mutebi at KCCA FC but the 2017 Airtel FUFA wards MVP has been trying to force playing time on merit on the Cranes team.
He may be having a turbulent feat at the national team level but for purposes of serenity in the middle of the pack, his presence alongside Kasozi and Okello could be the options Johnny finds to field the former Maroons midfielder.
8. Allan Okello | KCCA FC
KCCA FC’s Allan Okello on any day should start as the team’s creative midfielder going by form and exploits he’s already had at the level.
Okello debuted for the senior Cranes side during the AFCON qualifier against Malawi at Namboole and his impact on the team was incredible for a player at his level. The Football 256 player of the year has so far scored 6 goals in Startimes Uganda Premier League and was instrumental too during the Cranes qualification for the CHAN 2020 tournament.
Allan Okello forms part of the reasons for KCCA FC’s resurgence after a poor start to the 2020 Premier League. Allan Okello has already earned Johnny McKinstry’s trust and should be a starter with no competition unless when not in the right state.
9. Fahad Bayo | Vipers SC
One of a kind this season, the StarTimes Uganda Premier League and Cranes has been lacking a player of Bayo’s attributes and skill-set. The big and energetic Vipers forward is a good finisher too and going by his feat on the senior Cranes team against Malawi, the mark is already made.
Bayo has scored 9-goals in the domestic league so far and has had a bright start to the Cranes duty featuring and scoring at the different levels. Since his return from Zambia, Bayo has proven he is the right candidate to lead Uganda’s attacking line.
10. Vianey Sekajugo | Wakiso Giants
Pint-sized by size but Wakiso Giants forward, Sekajugo is one of the most intelligent players in the Cranes set-up. Ssekajugo, a winger and one the front-runners for the Airtel FUFA awards last season, while at Onduparaka, has been consistent while plying his trade at the different teams he’s featured for.
Ssekajugo has scored seven goals for his new club and if not going by size has shown a level of intelligence that not many players exhibit. He can shoot from a distance and as well inter-link well with the forward line and should be given a chance to start for the Cranes during the CECAFA tournament.
11. Joel Madondo | Busoga United FC
A good runner and shooter, Joel Madondo is one of the players who have the credentials to push the Cranes forward against any opponent. He might have missed out on the opportunity to travel to Vietnam for ‘professional football’ last season but the Busoga United forward embodies speed and long-range shooting skills all of which are necessary during the transition from the back.
He may have fallen below his standards, having scored only 3-goals so far this season, but he is a better supporting striker than any of his compatriots.
Considering the final squad released by Cranes head Johnny McKinstry, KCCA FC and Vipers SC are likely to have the most numbers on the starting line-ups not only going by their positions on the StarTimes Uganda Premier League standings but also the quality of the players versus their compatriots for the respective positions.
Please note that the views expressed herein do not in any way represent those of the coach, Johnny McKinstry, and his backroom staff and are not in any way intended to influence national team selection.
Uganda will face Burundi in their opening game at the StarTimes Stadium in Lugogo tomorrow.
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