The Uganda Cranes qualified for the knock out stages of the Confederation of the African Football(CAF) African Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament for the first time since 1978 where they finished as runners up after losing to Ghana 2-0 in the finals.
Today, the Cranes are presented with a rare opportunity to find their way back up to the elite class of African footballing giants when they take on Senegal in a game that they must win to get to the quarterfinals of the AFCON.
Coming into today’s game, the Cranes have had a bit of issue in the backroom that almost resulted in the team withdrawing from the tournament.
The players were demanding the Federation of Ugandan Football payment of their bonuses and even sat out some of the training sessions on Wednesday. Luckily for the team, the federation accepted to pay their bonuses of up to $6,000 on top of the $14,000 that they had been wired.
With that said, national team coach Sebastian Desabre came out and applauded the team unity that he had seen from the team after the players were paid their money.
So, with all that put behind us, we now look at how and what the Cranes would have to do in order to get the one result that every fan back in Uganda is praying and hoping for.
Senegal possesses a more superior side as compared to the Uganda Cranes with most of the players on the national team playing their professional football in some of the elite leagues in Europe and most notable of them being Sadio Mane who is a Champions League winner with Liverpool.
The Teranga lions play with the traditional 4-4-2 formation which means that in the middle of the park they have two wingers and two central midfielders with two N’diayes, Diatta and Balde making a very strong midfield while Mane and Niyang make up the front two.
Patrick Kaddu and Emmanuel Okwi have to be very sneaky while going up against the defensive pairing of Koulibay and Kouyate. These two are very good game readers and possess aerial abilities as well. And the top it off, they are very good bullies. Patience for Kaddu and Okwi will be a strong virtue today.
Let’s look at where Uganda could potentially capitalize on Senegal. When you look back at the game between Kenya and Senegal, you realize that when Kenya attacked the Teranga Lions, they had opportunities but just weren’t clinical in front of goal but also, it took Kenya calming down their game for Senegal to get in the game.
Playing Mike Azira and Khalid Aucho has so far proven to be fruitful for Uganda in the middle of the park as they have the ability to contain the pressure and dictate the pace of the game. Aucho could also be partnered alongside hard tackler Tadeo Lwanga which would be a massive bonus.
Farouk Miya needs to rediscover his boots that he left at the game against the D.R Congo so that he can create chances for the strikers. A pairing of Miya and Katerega would be more ideal as Allan is known for his creative abilities and composure. He also has an eye for goal which players like Okwi could benefit from.
In the second half, it would be great if Desabre gave players like Ochaya to run down that wing and offer support to Jaja Walusimbi and Lumala to run down the right win. However, Lumala will be starting this game so seeing Katerega come in the second half should be a good call.
In defence, Jjuuko and Hassan Wasswa pairing is what Desabre needs to deploy because Jjuuko has good game reading while Wasswa is a hard tackler something that should be able to keep Mane at bay.
Other stories: Uganda Optimistic About Getting Past Senegal
Author: Moses Echodu
Moses is a freelance writer for Newslibre and Programs Manager at the Craft Silicon Foundation. He loves writing about sports, politics and news around the globe and Inspiring new young people!!