In a draw of the second stage of the African qualifiers of the Qatar 2022 World Cup that ran on the night of the 21st of January, in Group E were placed Mali, Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda in order of the pots they were placed a day earlier.
Depending on whom you place your bets on, there is a big contention between Uganda and Mali as one of them being the winner of Group E come 12th October 2021.
Uganda last crossed paths with Mali during the 2017 AFCON, a game which ended in a 1-1 draw and prior to that, the sides had previously met at the 2016 CHAN Championships, which also ended in a 2-2 draw.
Apart from those two games, the two sides had never met before. To weigh up Uganda’s chances against The Eagles of Mali, we have to look at The Cranes’ previous visits to West Africa which have been a 1-0 loss to Burkina Faso in 2016 and a win by the same scoreline in Cape Verde.
From the available stats, the Uganda-Mali ties look to be entertaining ones between evenly matched sides. The highest ranked East African side, Uganda Cranes will also play its neighbors in the East and South West, Kenya and Rwanda.
In 77th position, Uganda is separated by 29 and 54 places with the Harambee Stars and Amavubi Stars respectively, the two fixtures seem a walkover for the CECAFA record Champions.
Does Uganda stand a chance at attaining victory and qualifying for the Qatar 2022 World Cup?
Uganda Cranes have always found no hardship in defeating East African sides in friendlies but has struggled in AFCON and World Cup Qualifiers. During the 2019 AFCON qualifiers, the Cranes were placed in the same group as Tanzania where they were able to only gain 1 point with 0 goals scored and 3 conceded.
In the run to the 2012 African showpiece, Uganda only accumulated 2 points against the Harambee Stars from two goalless draws. Not forgetting the most dramatic encounter with Rwanda which dates back to June 7th 2003, a game they lost in a fully packed Mandela National Stadium allowing their visitors to steer forward and later qualify for the 2004 continental games.
During those qualifiers, Uganda was able to only collect one point against Rwandan team. A tough road to Qatar 2022 lies ahead for Head Coach Johnny Mckinstry and his boys since they are without any disappointments expected to win points from fixtures they have previously accumulated minimal points at such big stages.
McKinstry will have to effectively use his past experience of East African football from his time at Amavubi Stars so that he conquers the two neighbourhood duels.
As of October 12th 2021, the top side of the group will qualify to the third and final stage of the qualifiers where the best teams will again be seeded against each other.
Qatar 2022 Group E table
They play each other in five matches on a home and away basis and by November 21st, the final five representatives of Africa at the 2022 World Cup will be defined.
All the best to the Uganda Cranes.
Also read: A look at the January 2020 transfer window
Author: Katende Basajjabaka
Katende writes about sports and occasionally technology.