Kampala — Uganda Cranes have endured several heartbreaking near-misses in their bid to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations.
October 8, 2011, is one of those forgettable nights for the senior national team. Then against Kenya, Uganda needed victory to seal a ticket to the continental tournament.
Tottenham Hotspur midfielder and Harambee Stars captain Victor Wanyama was part of the spoiling cast as Kenya secured a scoreless draw at Namboole to leave millions of Ugandan soccer lovers in tears. On Sunday, Cranes face Comoros at Namboole needing victory of any kind to qualify for the 2017 Afcon and Wanyama is hopeful the Ugandan side won't squander the chance.
"I believe they (Cranes) have come of age and with so many experienced players who have been playing at this stage at least for the last four campaigns. There are also young boys who are hungry to make a name for themselves," Wanyama, who led Kenya against Cranes in yesterday's 0-0 friendly draw at Namboole yesterday, said. He added: "There is no reason why they shouldn't keep calm and play for a result that is good for everyone."
Kenya are already out of the reckoning for Afcon qualification as they occupy last place in Group E with four points after five games. Wanyama is now hoping Uganda will carry the East African region flag in next year's tournament.
"Football in this region is underrated because we have failed to qualify for major tournaments. Once in while, Sudan or Ethiopia, will qualify but Uganda has always been close. Hopefully they make it this time. We will support them," said the 25-year-old Wanyama.
Uganda are joint top in Group D on 10 points with Burkina Faso. A win on Sunday will ensure Uganda ends returns to the big stage after 39 years.
GROUP D STANDINGS
Team P W D L GF GA Pts
B. Faso 5 3 1 1 4 1 10
Uganda 5 3 1 1 5 2 10
B'swana 5 2 0 3 4 6 6
Comoros 5 1 0 4 2 6 3