After captaining the Uganda U-17 team to the first ever qualification for the AFCON final tournament, the team captain Gavin Kizito Mugweri has set the target to winning the Africa finals.
Confident and articulate off the field of play like he commanded the rest of his charges throughout the six games in the qualifiers; Kizito has set the ball rolling and the bar high;
I thank my fellow players, coaches and FUFA for the collective effort to see that we qualify for the AFCON U-17 final tournament. We worked hard and now the struggle just continues. We are more than set to play at the final tournament and win as well.
Uganda Cubs overcame Ethiopia 3-1 in the final at the National Stadium in Dar es salaam to win the CECAFA zone qualifiers and also book a place at the 2019 Africa U-17 championships, alongside Tanzania.
Kizito, who is an S5 student at St Mary’s Kitende but plays at Sports Club Villa Jogoo junior team reserves a special appreciation message for Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) president Moses Magogo and his working team;
The president (Magogo) and the entire FUFA team made everything possible for us. From setting up the FUFA Juniors league to helping our team prepare well, FUFA did a great job for us. On behalf of my fellow players, we are delighted and excited. We shall not disappoint. It is not yet over until it is over. We shall not only participate but also compete
Kizito was a key pillar in the heart of the Ugandan defence throughout the six matches played.
The road of Uganda to AFCON U-17 finals:
When Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) communicated a change in the mode of qualification to the final tournament from the traditional haphazard round robin format to the zones, the writing was well spelt out on the wall that Uganda won smile to the final tournament.
Sportingly, Uganda staged a gallant fight, to topple the rest of the countries in the CECAFA zone and book a berth at the prestigious under age continental fiesta.
The CECAFA regional mini qualifiers took place in Tanzania at the Chamazi and national Stadium venues in the coastal Dar es salaam city.
Uganda kick-started the campaign on a sour footing, falling 1-0 to Ethiopia during the opening group B contest.
This did not hold back the youngsters in any way. But, instead, the fall was a push factor for the players in the subsequent matches until they won the final, ironically against Ethiopia 3-1.
The Cubs, as they are christened overcame neighbours South Sudan and Kenya 5-1 and 3-1 respectively in the other group matches before humiliating 8-0 against Djibouti to seal a semi-final berth with hosts and pre-tournament overwhelming favourites, Tanzania.
An early lead against Tanzania was neutralized when the Serengeti Stars equalized inside the opening quarter hour.
But, Uganda, in typical fighting spirit rallied back to win the game 3-1 and qualify for the finals against Ethiopia.
In the finals, it was revenge mission at stake.
Uganda led 3-0 at some stage before the horn of Africa nation pulled a consolation through a late penalty to galvanise the score sheet.
The final ended 3-1 and Uganda had achieved a rare feat, qualifying to the continental U-17 final tournament for the first time ever.
The celebrations continued throughout the awards ceremony till the team returned home on Monday and were hosted to a welcome luncheon at Jevine Hotel, Rubaga in Kampala.
The Historic Uganda U-17 team:
- Goal Keepers: Daniel Semwogere (UPDF JT FC), Delton Oyo (KJSSS FC JT)
- Defenders: Kevin Ssekimbegga (Buddo SS), Samson Kasozi (Bright Stars FC JT, Gavin Kizito Mugweri (SC Villa), John Rogers (Onduparaka FC JT), Juma Ibrahim (KCCA SA), Ibrahim Ekolot (Bright Stars FC JT)
- Midfielders: Davis Ssekajja (Bright Stars FC JT), Yasin Abdul Owane (Rock High School), Polycarp Mwaka (Football For Good Academy, Gulu), Thomas Kakaire (SC Vipers JT), John Kokas Alowo (URA FC JT)
- Forwards: Iddi Abdul Wahid (Onduparaka FC JT), Ivan Asaba (SC Vipers JT), Najib Yoga (Kisozi Seed High School), Owen Mukisa (BUL FC JT)
*Sidelined by MRI Scans: George Oluka (Buddo SS), Elvis Ngonde (KJSSS FC JT) and Joseph Kafumbe (Buddo SS)
- Head coach: Peter Onen
- Assistant Coach: Hamza Lutalo
- Goalkeeping Coach: Mubarak Kiberu
- Team Manager: Bashir Mutyaba
- Kits Manager: Frank Mumpenje
- Team Manager: Emmanuel Nakabago
- Media Officer: Bosco Omaria