Despite the late withdrawal of Sweden-based midfielder Martin Mutumba as well as injured Daniel Sserunkuuma, Cranes assistant coach Leo Adraa is confident the team has what it takes to win the upcoming Cecafa Cup, writes Moses Mugalu.
Mutumba has opted for club ahead of country, ruling himself out of the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup that kicks off this Friday at Namboole. Mutumba, whose highly publicized Cranes' home debut against Senegal in June didn't live up to its billing, has turned down a chance to redeem himself in the eyes of the national team supporters.
He has informed Cranes coach Bobby Williamson that he will stay in Sweden to focus on his club AIK Stockholm's Europa fixture against Napoli tomorrow. Also ruled out is injured Gor Mahia striker Daniel 'Mzee' Sserunkuma.
However, Mutumba and Sserunkuma's absence is no cause for alarm in The Cranes camp as preparations continued with players exhibiting high spirits in training today
"Everybody is enthusiastic...since the majority of players are young, they just want to play and prove themselves," says Leo Adraa, one of Bobby's senior assistants. "If I'm to rate the mood, its seven out of ten now."
Uganda kicks off the tournament against Kenya and, as expected, the pressure that comes with this tie has piled on Williamson and his boys. The Scot confessed after today's training that he had decided to shun reading newspapers or watch sports shows on television. He has discouraged his players, too.
"I don't read or watch [news] to avoid pressure. There is a lot of negative pressure created as a result of comments and criticisms in the reports," Williamson explains.
In today's training, Bobby concentrated on perfecting wing play and crosses, an area of the game through which The Cranes normally score their goals.
For one Steven Bengo was blunt as he missed sixteen times from point blank range but Emma Okwi and Diego Kiiza exhibited an extraordinary level of clinical finishing.
Currently, 28 players are in residential camp at the plush Rivonia Suites in Mbuya. The team moved in early this week, thanks to the Uganda Cranes Initiative (UCI), a fans' platform that has joined hands with Fufa to improve the welfare of the players and coaching staff.