In a bid to avoid last-minute panic, Cranes coach Bobby Williamson has announced a 23-man provisional squad to start non-residential training sessions in preparation for the 2012 Nations Cup playoff return leg against Zambia on October 13, writes John Vianney Nsimbe.
In summoning Chrizestom Ntambi, Williamson has four Vietnam-based players in the squad including Moses Oloya, Geoffrey Kizito and Brian Umony. Indeed, Umony, Oloya and Kizito have won lots of plaudits with their impressive performances for the national team. Or is it simply a lack of options for Williamson?
The Scot says the door is open to everyone regardless of where they ply their trade. Another Vietnam-based striker Henry Kisekka could also be considered since he is in town too. This change of stance could have been triggered by the reducing number of foreign-based footballers since the international retirement of several stars.
Hassan Wasswa's contract with his Turkish side, Kayseri is said to have expired, leaving Iceland-based Tony Mawejje and Abel Dhaira, Martin Mutumba (AIK Stockholm) and Andy Mwesigwa in Kazakhstan as the only Europe-based internationals.
Interestingly, Vietnam-based players used to be despised in the past because the level of football there wasn't considered competitive enough. For one, Willy Kyambadde's poor showing for The Cranes in 2004 said it all.
But according to ratings from world football league ranking body IFFHS, Vietnam's V-League is ranked in 43rd compared to Uganda's 88th position. Paul Nkata, the national Under-20 coach told The Observer recently that Vietnam has good facilities and structures. "They have professionals from South America that have raised their game," he says.
Because of the V-League's high standards, several Ugandan players have failed to cut the grade there lately. Yet, Ntambi is one of the few successes. But before he dreams of making the final team, the attacking midfielder has to showcase serious attributes of a professional.