Johnny McKinstry signs the employment contract Credit: FUFA

AFCON 2021 Qualifiers (Group B):

Sunday, 17th November 2019: Uganda Cranes Vs Malawi Flames

*At Mandela National Stadium, Namboole (4:00 PM)

*Entry Fees: 20,000/=, 50,000/= & 120,000/=

Uganda Cranes return to Mandela National Stadium in more than a year for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations group B qualifier against the Malawi Flames on Sunday.

This will be the first home game for Northern Irishman Johnathan McKinstry in charge of the Uganda Cranes.

McKinstry has already handled the Cranes in two away games; the 1-0 win over Ethiopia and that recent 0-0 stalemate over West Africans Burkina Faso.

Malawi comes to this very game with the advantage having won their first game 1-0 over visiting South Sudan.

Uganda Cranes, on the other hand secured a point in the goal-less away draw with Burkina Faso in Ouagadougou.

On Saturday, the Uganda Cranes captain Dennis Onyango and head coach Johnthan McKinstry addressed a joint press conference with Malawi’s skipper John Banda and head coach Meck Mwase at Protea Marriott Hotel, Skyz in Naguru – Kampala.

Either camp promised for the best showing in the match that will be handled by Sudanese referees.

Uganda Cranes XI that worked for a point away during the 0-0 draw with Burkina Faso Credit: FUFA Media

Head to Head:

In the five matches between these two countries, Malawi has an edge having won 2 matches, drawn twice and Uganda Cranes has one victory.

The latest encounter between Malawi and Uganda happened on 27th March 2018 at the Mandela National Stadium and it ended goal-less.

Team News:

Uganda Cranes:

Uganda Cranes returned from Burkina Faso aboard a Uganda Airlines chartered flight on Thursday morning and checked in at the Protea Marriott Hotel, Skyz in Naguru.

Two players; Abdul Lumala of Pyramids in Egypt and Alexis David Bbakka who features for Carlstad in Sweden did not return with the team pending complete documentations.

The team had a recovery training training session on Friday at the Namboole outside training facility and held their last training regime on the match eve.

In Lumala’s absence, William Luwagga Kizito is expected to be drifted into the starting line up having been among the unused substitutes in the away game.

Defender Timothy Denis Awany who started the away contest in Burkina Faso will need a late fitness test if he is to feature in the game having suffered a knock on the head. But in case he fails to recover well on time, utility experienced Hassan Wasswa Mawanda shall be available to fill the void.

Goalkeeper Dennis Onyango saves a DRC penalty at AFCON 2019

Key Players:

Dennis Onyango and Faruku Miya:

Uganda Cranes captain and first choice goalkeeper Dennis Onyango has time immemorial proved that he is the precious pillar for the team.

Besides organizing and leading the team from the back, Onyango provides those pin point saves and one against one stops that have proved worthwhile for the team.

Onyango also disclosed to the media that all the Uganda Cranes players have that will power and energy to diligently serve their country above self.

On form Faruku Miya is yet another key player for Uganda Cranes. Miya has been firing on all cylinders at his Turkish club Konyaspor with five goals in 7 matches.

He is expected to translate that club form to national team and inspire the Uganda Cranes at home.

Faruku Miya Credit: Kawowo Sports | AISHA NAKATO

Uganda Cranes Probable Line Up: Dennis Onyango (GK, Captain), Bevis Mugabi, Joseph Benson Ochaya, Hassan Wasswa Mawanda, Murushid Juuko, Khalid Aucho, Mike Azira, Faruku Miya, Emmanuel Arnold Okwi, William Luwagga Kizito, Henry Patrick Kaddu

Subs: Robert Odongkara (GK), Charles Lukwago (GK), Halid Lwaliwa, Taddeo Lwanga, William Kizito, Allan Kyambadde, Fahad Bayo, Allan Okello, Isaac Muleme, Nico Wakiro Wadada, Timothy Denis Awany

Malawi players in a training session at Lugogo on Friday evening

Malawi Flames:

After registering a morale boosting 1-0 home win against South Sudan, the Malawi team traveled to Uganda on Friday morning aboard Malawi Airlines.

The team held a training session at the Star Times Stadium, Lugogo on Friday afternoon before the final drills at Namboole on Saturday evening (game time).

Like head coach Meck Mwase and captain John Banda asserted during the pre-match press conference at Protea Hotel in Kampala, the team is well away of playing away from home and how they will go about it.

Ball work session for Malawi players at Lugogo

Key Players:

John Banda and Gabadihno Mhango:

John Banda is arguably among the most senior players on the team. His experience on the team remains valuable ahead of this most important duel in Kampala.

In fact, Banda, a midfielder with Blue Eagles Football Club was one of the players on the Malawi team that played to a goal-less draw at Namboole Stadium with the Uganda Cranes.

The other player of significance is Orlando Pirates forward Gabadihno Mhango. The star striker features in the South Africa PSL where Onyango is key and has quite a number of times monitored him.

Mhango scored the lone lone in Malawi’s 1-0 opener against South Sudan.

Malawi Team Squad:

Goalkeepers: William Thole (Be Forward Wanderers, Malawi), Brighton Munthali (Silver Strikers, Malawi)

Defenders: Lucky Malata (Be Forward Wanderers, Malawi), Gomezgani Chirwa (Civo United, Malawi), Peter Cholopi (Be Forward Wanderers, Malawi), Stanley Sanudi (Be Forward Wanderers), Nickson Nyasulu (Big Bullets, Malawi), Trevour Kalema (Silver Strikers, Malawi)

Midfielders: Idana Chimwemwe (Big Bullets, Malawi), Chester Yamikani (North Carolina, US), Gerald Keith Phiri Jr. (Baroka, South Africa), John Banda (Captain, Blue Eagles – Malawi), Peter Banda (Big Bullets, Malawi), Melcium Mhone (Blue Eagles, Malawi), Kaira Chimango (Nyasa Big Bullets, Malawi), Chikoti Chirwa (Kamuzu Barracks, Malawi)

Strikers: Gabadihno Mhango (Orlando Pirates, South Africa), Richard Mbulu (Baroka, South Africa), Hassan Kajoke (Nyasa Big Bullets, Malawi), Robin Ngalande (Zira FK, Azerbaijani)

Malawi Flames players in a ball work session at Lugogo on Friday evening


As a team, we are prepared. We know how good Uganda is. We are not scared, we are focused. We know that we are playing away from home. We are fully prepared for the game and we are aware that people in Uganda watch the game. People should come and witness our fight

John Banda, Malawi Captain
Malawi captain John Banda (left) with Uganda Cranes captain Dennis Onyango after the pre-match press conference on Saturday

We are ready for the game tomorow and waiting for the 90 minutes.It is a blessing in disguise to be here. The last time I came here as a player, we lost the battle. We have a talented squad and ready to face the Uganda Cranes

Meck Mwase, Malawi Head Coach
Meck Mwase, Malawi Head Coach

I have been looking forward my first game in Uganda. I expect an electric stadium. There is pressure to perform and we like it. We look forward the game. We expect a full backing from the fans. Playing away against Burkina Faso away is completely different from the home game against Malawi. We shall do what is required to get the points we need here. We want hungry players. We need Players who will fight for the shirt. It will be a difficult challenge against Malawi. It will be a tough encounter but we are ready for the best game. Alexis Bbakka and Abdul Lumala are great players and it is reason that made the squad will be missed but Uganda Cranes has a wide pool of talented and hungry for success players

Johnathan McKinstry, Uganda Cranes Head Coach
Johnathan McKinstry, Uganda Cranes head coach

The Uganda Cranes players are hungry for success and to perform. Even Messi and Ronaldo who are the best players are still hungry for more. Even us, the Uganda Cranes players are still yearning for more glory. We managed to get a point away from Burkina Faso which was a great plus. The focus is now against Malawi. We played against them in a friendly match last year and it was a goalless draw. It is a different game now. We have the fire power now. We need to win our home games. We need more, we are more hungry players.

Denis Onyango, Uganda Cranes captain and first choice goalkeeper
Dennis Onyango

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

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