New team captain Emmanuel Arnold Okwi with the outgoing captain Dennis Onyango (Credit: John Batanudde)
  • Thursday June 10, 2021
  • Orlando Stadium, Soweto 7pm (EAT)

For the first time since failing to qualify for the Total 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, Uganda Cranes are back in action with a high profile international friendly match against South Africa.

The clash at the Orlando stadium will have a new look Cranes without experienced stars; Denis Onyango, Hassan Wasswa and Mike Azira who announced their retirement after the failed campaign.

L-R: Mike Azira, Khalid Aucho and Denis Onyango Credit: Edgar Hamala

It’s also devoid of seasoned campaigners Joseph Ochaya, Aucho Khalid, William Luwagga Kizito, Jamal Salim and Nicholas Wadada among others who were not considered.

From the available squad at Abdallah Mubiru’s disposal, only Murushid Jjuuko, new skipper Emmanuel Okwi, Taddeo Lwanga and probably Lumala Abdul are the lads with experience.

The team’s composition of 15 Uganda Premier League players, five of which played for the U-20 side in the Youth Afcon is testimony of the rebuilding process that starts on Thursday evening.

New Uganda Cranes skipper Emmanuel Okwi and Lumala Abdu in training Credit: John Batanudde

Mubiru who is still in charge as interim since the sacking of Johnathan McKinstry is enthused by the atmosphere in camp which he says the players are more united and focused.

“There is a fresh breath within the group, it is better than what it felt like during our preparations for the qualifier against Malawi,” Mubiru told Football 256.

“All the lads that have been involved in the training camp in Kampala and those we have travelled with here are happy and committed to what we are trying to build.”

Shafik Kagimu watched over by Abdallah Mubiru (Credit: John Batanudde)

“I can smell the difference and make a positive general assessment of both scenarios. I am delighted with the attitude of all the players. I am happy and satisfied,” he added.

Meanwhile, like Uganda, South Africa also didn’t qualify for the forthcoming edition and have since hired former winner Hugo Broos.

He will however be unavailable to make his debut in the dugout and so is his assistant Janevski Cedomir also tested positive for Covid19 to join Percy Tau, Teboho Mokoena and Sipho Mbule while Mosa Lebusa, Mothobi Mvala and Rivaldo Coetze are side-lined with injuries.

Previous Meetings

Uganda and South Africa have previously met three times with the most recent being in 2019 Cosafa.

Team Uganda Line up against Lesotho (Photo: COSAFA Media)

A makeshift team, ironically under Abdallah Mubiru drew 1-1 with similarly a young Bafana Bafana side with Luther Singh on target for RSA while Dan Sserunkuma scored for the Cranes.

In the 2006 World Cup/Afcon Qualifiers, South Africa edged the Cranes 1-0 at Namboole with then Man United midfielder Quinton scoring from the spot.

The reverse fixture was won by South Africa 2-1. Fortune again netting for RSA and the other by Steven Pienaar while David Obua netted for Uganda.

Uganda Cranes players getting ready for a training session at the SAFA center in South Africa (Credit: John Batanudde)

Uganda Cranes travelling squad

Goalkeepers: Ismail Watenga, Mathias Kigonya, Charles Lukwago

Defenders: Paul Willa, Mustafa Kizza, Abdul Azizi Kayondo, Walusimbi Enock, Murushid Juuko, Halid Lwaliwa, Paul Mbowa Patrick, Muhamood Hassan

Midfielders: Taddeo Lwanga, Bobosi Byaruhanga, Shafik Kagimu, Allan Okello, Moses Waiswa Ndhondhi, Abdul Lumala, Ibrahim Orit, Isma Mugulusi, Steven Sserwadda

Forwards: Emmanuel Okwi, Steven Mukwala, Derrick Kakooza

Senior Staff writer at Kawowo Sports mainly covering football

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