5 January 2013

Uganda: Will Uganda Cranes Pull It Off This Year?

Can the Cranes progress to the final round of the 2014 World Cup qualifying stage? No! And it's a big No!

But what they can achieve from the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign that resumes in March with back-to-back fixtures against Liberia before their gruelling engagements against Angola in June and Senegal in October is prepare a decent side that will have a realistic chance of qualifying for the 2015 Nations Cup finals.

Of course it's always good to be ambitious. But experienced campaigners will tell you that football is a sport that thrives on reality rather than fiction or short-cuts.

Uganda has two points from draws against Angola and Senegal and could seal progress to the final bend of the qualifiers if they can win all four of their last qualifiers against Liberia, Angola and Senegal.

Liberia will be a difficult place to visit. But the West Africans are in turmoil. They fired their head coach Kaetu Smith and his assistants after poor results during their seven months on the job and are yet to appoint a new manager for the forthcoming qualifier against Uganda.

Smith and his team were appointed in May last year but failed to win any of his five competitive matches.

Liberian legend George Weah has since been tasked to identify a new and competent coach that will steer the Lone Stars to glory over Uganda. This presents Uganda with a realistic chance of masterminding results over two legs against the Liberians.

Whatever the circumstances, the Cranes will then be challenged to upstage Angola, which they can, considering our home record and statistics against the Palancas Negros in recent years.

Uganda's real test will then come against Senegal at an obscure venue in Dakar, where whoever wins will ultimately qualify for the next and final stage.

Now, reality dictates that the Lions of Teranga should win this one. The West Africans were too good for Cranes during the 1-1 draw last year and will stop at nothing in trying to demolish the Cranes for a comfortable win at home.

What this means, is Cranes would have wasted yet another golden opportunity of imparting valuable experience to the breed of promising youngsters coming through their ranks.

True, Lome and Dakar will be no places for faint hearts and the best decision would be to assemble the most experienced squad members for these two trips.

But I am sure even the strongest critics will appreciate any sort of result from any of the above World Cup qualifiers if Bobby Williamson rotates his youthful squad with motive of identifying a group that will compete favourably in the 2015 Nations Cup qualifiers that will start later in October.

The likes of Isaac Isinde, Denis Iguma, Godfrey Kizito, Joseph Ochaya, Said Kyeyune are good but they can be better.

Of course, many will argue that the three proved their qualities in the concluded CECAFA Challenge Cup.

But in truth, all they did was to confirm they have unfulfilled potential.

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