For the fourth successive time, The Uganda Cranes will compete in the African Nations Championships (Chan) finals due next year in Kenya, writes MOSES MUGALU.
The Cranes booked their ticket to the 2018 African Nations Championships (Chan) finals on Saturday after dumping Rwanda 3-2 on aggregate, albeit in a nervy and pulsating return match in Kigali.
Despite carrying a comfortable 3-0 lead from the first leg played a week earlier in Kampala, The Cranes found themselves under pressure as Rwanda's Amavubi Stars scored two goals in the opening 10 minutes of the game at Nyamirambo stadium.
But coach Moses Basena's side, which enjoyed massive support from thousands of travelling Ugandan fans in the stands, held on for a 0-2 loss to seal their place in the 2018 Chan finals in Nairobi.
This will be Cranes' fourth appearance at the Chan finals after featuring in the 2011, 2014 and 2016 editions in Sudan, South Africa and Rwanda respectively. However, The Cranes did not go past the group stages on any of the three occasions in the tournament, which features home-based players in respective African countries.
Basena, who is handling The Cranes in a caretaker role following the abrupt departure of Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic earlier this month, expects the team to return with better results from Kenya next year.
"Our participation in the last three editions has been a learning process; so, this time we are going to challenge for the title," Basena said in his post-match comments.
As expected, Basena called on his players to forget about celebrating the Chan success and switch focus to the upcoming 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifier against Egypt.
The Cranes host the Egyptian Pharaohs on August 31 in Kampala and travel to Cairo for the return leg on September 5.