The past few weeks have been crucial for players on the periphery of the Uganda Cranes local based squad.
Jonathan McKinstry and his technical staff have just two matches left in the Premier League before they pick the provisional squad for the Africa Nations Championship 2020.
They are unlikely to bring in a lot of new faces but with the departure of Allan Okello and James Alitho for greener pastures in addition to injuries to Charles Lukwago, Yusuf Ssozi and Nicholas Kasozi that could rule them out, here are some of the players worth considering even though they most have never featured in Cranes squads before.
David Bagoole, Busoga United
He is currently one of the best creative central midfielder in the league at the moment and his form can’t be ignored.
The midfielder has scored two goals and made three assists since the turn of the year but also created goal scoring opportunities for his teammates at will.
Said Kyeyune, URA
Said Kyeyune has plenty of competition for a place in the squad, but surely his form cannot be ignored any longer.
With nine goals in all competitions this season and over seven assists, Kyeyune deserves a chance.
In position, two players Nicholas Kasozi and Yusuf Ssozi have rarely featured in the second round due to injuries and this gives Kyeyune even more optimism.
Andrew Samson Kigozi, Police
Kigozi is an outside bet but his ability to play out wide in a front three, lead the line and also play behind the main centre forward could stand the teenager in good stead.
He has scored five goals in the Premier League and provide four assists so far in a struggling side and his game intelligence is undoubted.
Gift Ali, KCCA
One thing that has become very clear at KCCA since Gift Ali returned to full fitness is that he is the first choice anchor man and probably the first name on Mike Mutebi’s team sheet.
Like Kyeyune, Ali faces competition from fellow teammates Muzamiru Mutyaba and Kasozi as well as URA’s Shafik Kagimu among others for a place in the team.
But having leapfrogged Kasozi in the pecking order at KCCA, he will hope to do same for Uganda Cranes.
Gigi has not scored a goal yet unlike Bagoole and Kyeyune but he is the engine and fulcrum of the KCCA side for the past months and more composed in possession than all his competitors.
Amir Kakomo, SC Villa
He is a wild card at this stage but Kakomo has been impressive in his first season playing top league football.
The midfielder’s game reading, interception of opponents’ attack and ability to initiate attacks from deep can’t be ignored and once in a while, he isn’t afraid to shoot from distance and already has a goal to his name this season.
Kakomo is SC Villa’s unsung hero and whenever he is out, it’s easy to see the Jogoos struggles.
Geriga Atendele, Wakiso Giants
Uganda has an abundance of talented left-backs but the options on the opposite flank are not so convincing. With that in mind, Geriga Atendele could have a real shot.
The former Ondu right back has shown real maturity and confidence this season and could arguably rank as the best crosser of the ball of all options on the right.
A colossus defensively and lethal going forward with his pinpoint crosses, Atendele could be a good bet to challenge Paul Willa for the position.
Brian Aheebwa, Mbarara City
Aheebwa has already scored 9 goals in the Premier League this season, making this the most productive campaign of his career by far.
The Mbarara City striker is enjoying the form of his life and currently the most on form forward in the division.
His work rate and threat from crosses also gives him an appeal and increased potency in the box will keep the pressure on Steven Mukwala, Viane Sekajugo and Fahad Bayo who are currently the favourite for the strikers’ spots in the squad
Pius Kagwa, Police
McKinstry is a big fan of direct wing play and Pius Kagwa could be a very good option for him in the squad.
The Police attacker has four goals and as many assists to his name which is a good tally for a player in a side that is into the relegation zone.
He is skilful, fast and has an eye for goal just like his direct competitor Joachim Ojera.
Derrick Ndahiro, SC Villa
Small body, big brain is a perfect description is the lanky SC Villa left back.
Ndahiro has been possibly been denied an opportunity before citing nationality issues but with that sorted, he is a good bet at left back where McKinstry has only one reliable man in Mustafa Kizza.
What he lacks in size, he has upstairs – defends with solidity and marvellous going forward plus he is a joy to watch.
Alionzi Nafian, URA
The departure of James Alitho (who he benched whenever available at URA) and injury to Lukwago opens the doors for the promising URA goalkeeper.
Alionzi is enjoying an impressive season and could be offered chance to try impress the coaches when the squad is out.
He has made match winning saves and besides Joel Mutakubwa and maybe Said Keni, he is the best of the Ugandan local based goalkeepers.