Friday November 17, 2023

  • Stade Municipal de Berkane 4pm (EAT)

Paul Put will hope his debut in the Uganda Cranes dugout begins on a bright note when the team faces Guinea in the opening match for the Fifa 2026 World Cup qualifiers.

The two nations clash in Morocco on Friday in Group G that has Algeria, Somalia, Botswana and Mozambique.

Uganda concluded their friendly schedule with two disappointing defeats in October losing 1-0 to Mali and 3-0 to Zambia, two fixtures that preceded the appointment of the much-travelled Belgian who will be facing his former bosses in the Syli Nationale.

Paul Put and his assistant Sam Ssimbwa Credit: FUFA

They key observations from Put’s first squad was the dropping of experienced skipper Emmanuel Okwi and talisman Farouk Miya while recalling the forgotten Luwagga Kizito and Yunus Sentamu.

Since qualifying for back-to-back Afcon finals in 2017 and 2019, Uganda has regressed and wrapped up the 2023 Afcon qualifying campaign in third place in a group that had Algeria, Tanzania and Niger.

Put’s job will be cut out as he looks to turn things around with the Cranes heading to the clash with Guinea on a run of four defeats in the last five matches across all competitions, conceding seven goals and keep just one clean sheet in the process.

Meanwhile, Guinea were unbeaten in their October friendly drawing 1-1 with Gabon and are unbeaten in the last three matches despite winning once and qualified for Afcon 2023 unlike the Cranes.

Team News and Key players

Yunus Sentamu and Bright Anukani Credit: John Batanudde

All eyes will be on returnees Yunus Sentamu and Luwagga Kizito to steer the team up front but Bevis Mugabi, Timothy Awany and Halid Lwaliwa must do all the work to keep the talented Guinea attackers at bay with stand in captain Khalid Aucho marshalling the midfield.

In-form striker Serhou Guirassy will be the game’s main attraction after his exploits in the Bundesliga where he has so far netted 15 goals in 11 games for Stuttgart.

vfb-stuttgart-v-fc-augsburg-bundesliga Credit: Germany Football

Lens forward Morgan Guilavogui and another French based star Mohamed Bayo who features for Le Havre will be other options for Guinea in attack.

What they say?

“We are focused on the game and we want to assure fans that we shall pick maximum points,” Khalid Aucho

“I think we have done everything possible despite just a few days of training. The players have responded well, they are disciplined and determined and that’s what we need in the game. I am still learning the players after just two training sessions but we shall do all to win,” Paul Put.

Head-to-head (h2h) and results

This will be the sixth official competitive meeting between the two sides with Guinea on top with three wins. [D1, L1]

It will be the third meeting in a world cup qualifying campaign after the meetings in 2000 which ended in Guinea winning 3-0 at home and a thrilling 4-4 home draw at Nakivubo.

The last meeting between the two sides ironically happened in Morocco in 2014 with Guinea beating Uganda 2-0. Sentamu and Kizito are the survivors from the clash in the current Cranes squad.

Uganda Probable XI

Jamal (GK), Mugabi, Kayondo, Awany, Lwaliwa, Aucho ©, Bobosi, Luwagga, Yunus, Karisa and Lutalo

Senior Staff writer at Kawowo Sports mainly covering football

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