Uganda National Senior Football team – The Uganda Cranes has two quick Africa Cup of Nations qualifier fixtures to do away with. But again, they still have a long journey to qualification that starts on 4th June 2022 running all through to 30th March 2023 when they are expected to play their last group game against Tanzania at home.
The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualification matches as organized by the Confederation of African Football (CAF), will decide the participating teams of the 2023 AFCON, the 34th edition of the international men’s football championship of Africa. A total of 24 teams will qualify to play in the final tournament, including Ivory Coast, who qualified automatically as hosts.
The eleven birds (Uganda Cranes) start the journey Today 4th June 2022 against Algeria (away) and, on 8th June 2022, just four days, they will return hastily at home to work out against Niger at St. Mary’s Stadium, Kitende. Cranes is training and plotting, and so, are the opponents on the other side who also desire to qualify for the 2023 final football show. So, African drawn teams are fighting to be party to the show in Ivory coast next year.
This campaign alone means a lot for Uganda as a Country. This is because the Team and the coach Micho, have been absent at the finals of Football on the Continent. The results will therefore define both the Cranes and their Coach, Micho Sredojevic’s final destiny after all six encounters.
First forward, the game between the Cranes and Algeria, the first game of the Total Energies Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers slated for 4th June 2022 in Algeria’s Capital Algiers at the 5 July 1962 Stadium, presents both teams such a wonderful opportunity of a safe journey to Ivory coast.
Even if it’s the first qualifier campaign game, the results here will guarantee either side a caveat to near qualifier given the two teams’ playing quality and rank.
Playing away somewhat gives the visiting team some subordination complexes with much of the admiration to the host team. And, this is the natural force in the general sports world in every bit. That known, Cranes are plotting for a handsome opener result but could only be playing for a draw against the North Africans in their first qualifying game today, given all possible chances.
The first two matches of any qualification competition are usually key and Micho will want to set the tone early for Cranes to stand a chance of returning to the Africa Cup of Nations.
However, the biggest drivers for Uganda Cranes throughout this campaign is the fact that they missed the last continental finals. So, they don’t want to take any chances at this qualification campaign.
Having qualified for two of the last three Africa Cup of Nations finals, the Cranes had gotten on the process of making qualification for Africa’s biggest soccer showpiece almost a custom rather than a one-off.
The country witnessed the team qualify for the Gabon 2017 finals and also at the Egypt 2019 before failing to reach Cameroon 2021.
Currently, still under coach Micho Sredojevic, who oversaw the team’s first Afcon qualification after nearly 40 years will be desperate himself, as a coach to deliver the team to Ivory Coast 2023.
Micho talks about himself as the best football coach to have ever happened to Uganda football and Cranes in particular. However, the outcome of this campaign also could define his (Micho’s) next destiny with the team. I mean a miss will guarantee exit. Yet a qualification to Afcon2023 will guarantee stay.
Cranes have struggled to impress during away from home qualification matches. As earlier said that all gongs are almost for the home teams, Cranes away games results could be top on the agenda if the team must qualify.
The Serbian however explains that to counter the away poor performance phobia, he embarked on the overseas tours as they have exposed players especially the lot that play at local league. “The purpose of the tour games was to test several things. Friendly matches are, among other things, meant to give chance to different players and an opportunity to set up the team in different formations and systems. We shall be a different team come June, when we line up for competitive games.” Micho was quoted by The Observer.
The opposition force;
Micho largely confesses that Cranes must be at their very best in a group that features Algeria, Niger and neighbors, Tanzania. Statistically, Algeria came within a minute of reaching the Fifa World Cup. The other group members of Niger and Tanzania are teams that put Micho’s Cranes on pressure.
Micho is cagey of the danger posed by neighbors Tanzania, who flogged Uganda Cranes 3-0 in Dar es Salaam the last time the two countries met in an Afcon qualifier.
Taifa Stars, more than Niger, are likely Uganda’s main rival at this qualification and Micho should be very aware an encounter between the two East African Community countries will have the feel of a derby spread all over it.
Niger is facing Tanzania at neighboring Benin with the Group F fixture set for the Stade de l’Amitié in Cotonou.
Yes, by all means, fans will be in the stadia having been for the first time in nearly three years to cheer up their teams after Caf had barred them as a measure during the now gone Covid-19 pandemic.
Cranes has always been at the mercy of their 12th player-the fans.
In actual sense, in every stadium there will be the fan effect not only at Kitende so Cranes should not be banking on them a lot.
If we are to measure, analyze and give verdict on who will take the points after the day, group top seed Algeria has most chances of finishing top and hopefully Uganda could finish second in every sense of this verdict.
Uganda could be only lucky because the top two winners in most of the groups will qualify for the tournament in Cote d’Ivoire next year.
About the real match coming off on Saturday, Algeria coming up against Uganda could be a do-or-die for the hosts who are trying to make amends of their disappointing AFCON 2021 campaign and World Cup qualification failure.
- Mr. Daniels N. Tatya is an affluent Sports Writer, Commentator and Editor. His over 15 years of covering almost major sporting events makes him a revered and an authority on investigative Sports journalism in Uganda. He can also be reached via [email protected] +256(0)758268315
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