8 February 2013

Uganda: Cranes Draw in Rwanda Leaves Unanswered Questions

The Cranes earned a creditable 2-2 draw away to Rwanda in an international friendly match in Kigali on Wednesday February 6.

It was a repeat of the 2-2 draw in the 2011 Cecafa final in Tanzania. Saidi Kyeyune and Daniel Serunkuma, on his début, scored for Cranes. However, it isn't clear whether this game benefited Cranes coach Bobby Williamson as much regarding the Africa Nations Championship (Chan) qualifiers preparations that start mid this year, let alone the World Cup qualifiers.

Without Emma Okwi, Andy Mwesigwa, Godfrey Walusimbi, Henry Kalungi, Geoffrey Kizito, Moses Oloya, Geoffrey Massa and Tonny Mawejje, preparations for the World Cup qualifiers are dented. So then, where does Serunkuma fit?

It's the Chan team. Yet he's ineligible now that he plays in Kenya for Gor Mahia? This must be mind-boggling for the Scotsman. It is probably the reason why the erstwhile forward, Tony Odur was recalled to The Cranes squad after being locked out since early 2011 due to an indiscipline streak during the Chan tournament in Sudan.

You see, Odur hadn't been summoned in the first squad last week but he was later drafted in. According to Katende Malibu, Cranes media coordinator, it was just an oversight that Odur hadn't been called initially. But observers state that his being included was a last-minute decision after Williamson realised that he had no strikers to count on for the Chan; a tournament he said the Rwanda friendly would help him prepare for.

With 12 goals, Odur is the top-scorer in the Fufa Super League and now that Robert Ssentongo and Brian Umony are now playing in Ethiopia and Tanzania respectively, Williamson had no fall-back position in terms of strikers other than Odur. It is even more worrying that by the time Chan gets under-way in June, the player transfer window will have opened.

So, some players could have moved by then too. For example, during the last Chan qualifiers in 2010, Fufa had to play their cards smartly to ensure that midfielder Musa Mudde first played out the qualifiers before completing his transfer to Kenyan club side Sofapaka from Bombo side Simba SC. A quick move would have made Mudde ineligible for Chan.

Following that move, eight players that had played a pivotal role in the Chan qualifiers then landed deals in foreign leagues, which weakened Williamson's team for the real Chan tournament. Without a doubt, a host of players are teetering with the same idea even as far away as Vietnam. So rest assured, such a scenario like the one in 2010 is bound to unravel as players seek greener pastures.

Word has it that Mike Serumaga, who of course is in Williamson's Chan plans now that he is at Proline could be heading out to Rwanda or Tanzania. His goal away to Kenya in the last qualifiers helped Cranes qualify for the Chan but he transferred to a foreign league and couldn't qualify to play at the Chan.

It is difficult to see what Williamson can do about this conundrum other than look on in prayer that he still has a team good enough to negotiate the Chan qualifiers.

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