Uganda Cranes players celebrate a goal during match against France Military Credit: © Kawowo Sports | AMINAH BABIRYE

2018 CHAN Qualifiers:

  • 1st Leg (15th July 2017): South Sudan Vs Uganda – Juba Stadium, Juba
  • 2nd Leg (22nd July 2017): Uganda Vs South Sudan – Mandela National stadium, Namboole -Kampala
[/media-credit] KCCA’s Isaac Muleme quenching his thirst drinking water against JMC Hippos in the domestic league. He is among the pool of players for Uganda Cranes CHAN team

When South Sudan overcame Somalia 5-0 on aggregate in the preliminary round of the 2018 Championship of African Nations (CHAN) qualifiers, the writing was well spelt out on the wall, they were in the path of CECAFA’s most successful nation, Uganda.

South Sudan is set to host the first leg mid July at the Juba stadium in the tournament meant for local players featuring in the domestic league.

CECAFA region’s most successful country, Uganda will then host the return leg a week later with the victor on aggregate expected to face either Tanzania or Rwanda for a slot to next year’s championship in Kenya.

Either country’s coaching departments of Felix Bilal or Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredejovic for the Bright Stars or Uganda Cranes respectively are expected to name their respective squads in a few weeks’ time.

[/media-credit] South Sudan in action against Djibouti in an AFCON qualifier Credit: South Sudan FA

Micho has already warned his charges against complacency ahead of the two legged qualifiers.

South Sudan’s football is definitely on the rise. Uganda Cranes is the favourite but we should not take this for granted. We have to work for it

Key players:

Robert Wurube, a midfielder born in Uganda, Khamis Leon and James Moga were instrumental for South Sudan in the preliminary stage of the qualifiers.

The trio is expected to be key in the Bright Stars’ quest to play at their first major championship since getting affiliated to FIFA and CAF in 2015.

Meanwhile, Micho is expected to assemble a formidable team from the Uganda Premier League.

Striker Emmanuel Okwi who has been signed by Tanzania’s Simba Sports club and a host of players who have migrated to the Kenya Premier league will definitely not be part of the team.

However, a big bulk of players still in Uganda are available for duty and will definitely present a selection headache for the coach.

Vipers’ right back Nico Wadada Wadada and shot stopper Ismail Watenga, SC Villa’s Bernard Muwanga, KCCA’s goalkeeper Benjamin Ochan Timothy Awany, Isaac Muleme, Geofrey Sserunkuma and Derrick Nsibambi all of whom traveled with the senior team to the recent AFCON 2017 group L qualifier against Cape Verde are sure cards to be on the CHAN team.

Uganda overcame Cape Verde away 1-0 courtesy of Sserunkuma’s 83rd minute calm finish off a teasing well laid ball from the overlapping left back Godfrey ‘Jaja Walu’ Walusimbi of Kenyan side, Gor Mahia.

As a build up tour, Uganda Cranes will play a Western region select side at the Kabale Municipal stadium on 8th July 2017 in the famous Airtel code named national regional tours (Cranes Na-mutima).

South Sudan will be backing on history as they also managed their international match maiden victory in the history of the country against Equatorial Guinea two years ago.

David Isabirye is a senior staff writer for Kawowo Sports where he covers most of the major events.

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