The never-ceasing changes in the preparation for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations have brought up a number of new things in the continental football arena.
Africa’s flagship football showpiece will have 24 teams rather than 16 and that increase has seen some countries thread new paths in the qualification process.
For the first time in history, Uganda’s Cranes progressed to the tournament finals set to be held in Egypt with a game to spare.
That’s after Cranes defeated Cape Verde 1-0 courtesy of Patrick Kaddu’s strike at Namboole last November to book a ticket for a seventh Afcon appearance in history.
Top of Group L with 13 points, now coach Desabre Sebastien’s charges are devoid of pressure heading into the final group match on Sunday away to Tanzania.
It is a pivotal tie for the Taifa Stars who are eyeing their first Afcon appearance since 1980.
They are level with Lesotho on five points apiece after five matches but lie third because of the head-to-head record with the Maseru boys.
Tanzania’s coach Emmanuel Amunike is banking on stars John Bocco in defence and captain Mbwana Samatta upfront to turn tables and secure the must win at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam.
Tanzania must win the East African derby and hope Lesotho doesn’t match their result when they play bottom side Cape Verde away in Praia.
Meanwhile, the Cranes are not into the mathematics but the side is eyeing to finish this qualification phase with six clean sheets, a new landmark.
Cranes’ goalkeeper Denis Onyango has insisted they won’t let their feet off the pedals even if it serves as ‘dead rubber’. Onyango, ranked as Africa’s best custodian, is yet to concede in 450 minutes.
The attackers led by team’s top scorer Farouk Miya are keen on firing too. “For we are ready for the task ahead of us on Sunday and I know Tanzania will come with full force wanting to win the match for they to secure qualification slot but we also want to finish it at high so we shall give it our best shot.” Miya said from the team camp in Egypt.
He leads Cranes’ scoring charts here with three goals, all against Lesotho in the double header back in October.
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Full Uganda Cranes Team
Denis Onyango (Mamelodi Sundowns, South Africa), Salim Magoola (Al Hilal, South), Robert Odongkara (Adama City, Ethiopia)
Murushid Jjuuko (Simba, Tanzania), Timothy Awany (KCCA, Uganda), Halid Lwaliwa (Vipers, Uganda), Geofrey Walusimbi (Free Agent), Joseph Ochaya (TP Mazembe, DR Congo), Kirizestom Ntambi (Ethiopian Coffee), Nico Wakiro Wadada (Azam, Tanzania)
Khalid Aucho (Churchhill brothers, India), Hassan Wasswa Mawanda (Free Agent), Tadeo Lwanga (Vipers, Uganda), Ibrahim Sadam Juma (KCCA, Uganda), Moses Waiswa (Vipers, Uganda), Moses Opondo (Vendsyssel FF, Denmark)
Faruku Miya (Gorica, Croatia), Emmanuel Okwi (Simba, Tanzania), Allan Kyambadde (KCCA, Uganda), Allan Okello (KCCA, Uganda), Edrisa Lubega (SV Ried, Austria), Muhammad Shaban (Raja Casablanca, Morocco), Henry Patrick Kaddu (KCCA, Uganda), Milton Karisa (MC Oujda, Morocco)
This writer is a global broadcaster and as well scribe with Daily Monitor Newspaper and sports presenter with Radio One FM 90 in Kampala. Follow him on Twitter: @AllanDarren and his Facebook Page: Darren Allan Kyeyune
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