Kampala — Cranes interim coach Moses Basena first showed intentions of using a good number of home-based players in tomorrow's final World Cup qualifier in Congo when he named 24 of his provisional 32-man squad from the local league.
Skipper Denis Onyango (South Africa), his vice Hassan Wasswa (Egypt), strikers Geoffrey Sserunkuma (Zambia) and Emmanuel Okwi (Tanzania) are some of the experienced shoulders he considered to guide the youngsters in Brazzaville.
And that he excused Farouk Miya (Belgium), Kizito Luwagga (Romania), Khalid Aucho (Serbia) and Tonny Mawejje (Albania) among other foreign-based players from this trip shows that Basena had Cecafa next month and Chan early next year at the back of his mind.
Cecafa, which is open to all players, has previously been dominated by footballers featuring in the region, while Chan is a Caf tournament meant only for those plying their trade within their country of citizenship.
While Onyango, Wasswa, Sserunkuma and Isaac Isinde - the oldest of the pack in the team - will inevitably play, the likes of Milton Karisa, Nelson Senkatuka, Paul Mucureezi and Savio Kabugo could be given a run-out.
This is a game Isaac Muleme, in the absence of Joseph Ochaya, Tom Masiko - in absence of Mawejje and Muzamir Mutyaba in absence of Miya among others would love to show what they are made of. In all, this encounter - if Basena does not make it life and death - , is one he can decide to give us a sneak-peek into what will, with time, be an inevitable transition.
"I think the Cranes are moving forward," Basena told SCORE, "The 2019 Nations Cup is coming up, we are putting ourselves in the best position possible and that is why we must keep the balance.
"The experience of Onyango, Wasswa, Okwi and Sserunkuma will help the youngsters learn and gel well in the team.
"Like you've seen, majority of our players are youngsters, and with Cecafa, Chan, every one of them is a candidate."
Basena, who will have to wait until further notice whether he has been successful with his job application to manage Uganda permanently, said selection for future engagements is still open. "For now, we want to give a good account of ourselves."
Uganda Cranes SQUAD:
Goalkeepers: Denis Onyango, Isma Watenga, Benjamin Ochan Defenders: Nico Wadada, Denis Guma, Godfrey Walusimbi, Isaac Muleme, Isaac Isinde, Murushidi Juuko, Timothy Awanyi, Hassan Wasswa.
Midfielders: Tom Masiko, Muzamiru Mutyaba, Paul Mucurezi, Allan Kyambadde, Bernard Muwanga.
Forwards: Derrick Nsibambi, Milton Karisa, Geoffrey Serunkuma, Nelson Senkatuka
Congo vs Uganda match officials:
Referee: Mohammed Hussein El Fadhil - Sudan
Assistant Referee 1: Ibrahim Mo Abdallah - Sudan
Assistant Referee 2: Egueh Yacin Hassan - Djibouti
4th Official: Ismail Mahmood Ali Mahmood - Sudan
Referee Assessor: Mfubusa Bernard - Burundi
Commissioner: Ndoumbou Likouni Dieudonne - Gabon
GROUP E STANDINGS
Team P W D L Pts
Egypt 5 4 0 1 12
Uganda 5 2 2 1 8
Ghana 5 1 3 1 6
Congo 5 0 1 4 1