The Uganda Men’s football national team-the Cranes got off to a fine start in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers on Wednesday night as they drew 0-0 away to Burkina Faso.
It might have been a draw but getting it off a side that had won all their last six AFCON qualification games and not lost since 2010, is a good result and one that the team will be looking to build on as they bid to reach a third finals’ tournament on the trot.
It was a game in which the home side dominated possession and Uganda struggled to create chances.
Speaking after the game, Cranes head coach Johnathan McKinstry could not hide his excitement about the point earned.
“We expected a very difficult game here, noted McKinstry.
“As we said before, Burkina Faso have one of the best home records in Africa having lost only once in 10 years and drawn just five.
“It shows you how strong they are and obviously the Cranes came here a few years ago and lost 1-0 in a very tight game.
“I think to come here which is the most difficult away game in the group and take a point is very positive.
“We would have loved to take all three points but honestly, one point is not bad.”
McKinstry has been in charge of the Cranes barely two months but looks settled in already.
His next task will be to lead the side in a home fixture against Malawi this Sunday, one that he very much wants to take three points from.
“They are going to be very different games, said McKinstry when asked about Sunday’s game.
“Away from home, you will be under a lot of pressure but at home, hopefully, we will have a fully packed stadium at Namboole and we want the crowd to come out and support us.
“We have shown them that we are willing to fight for points and we expect them to support us back home at Namboole so as we try to win the game.
A win at home to Malawi will put Cranes in a strong position to qualify from the group.
As per recent history, 10 points in the qualification group will most definitely see a side past the finish line and into the AFCON finals.
Asked about the team’s target, the North Irishman had this to say;
“Our target is 12 points but we know 10 can also take you to the finals.
“It is one point collected so far and now we need to continue doing that.
“The view is winning all your home games and try to pick as many points on the road as possible.”
To get to finals in 2019, Uganda accumulated 13 points from 6 group games after winning 4, drawing once and losing one.
If they can match that record, it will be a brilliant start to McKinstry’s reign as head coach of the Cranes.
The Uganda Cranes arrived back in the country on Thursday morning and are expected to embark on preparations for the Malawi game immediately.
Malawi are currently top of group B with three points after defeating South Sudan 1-0 on Wednesday.
The Cranes team that featured in the draw away to Burkina Faso
Denis Onyango (GK, Captain), Bevis Mugabi, Joseph Benson Ochaya, Timothy Denis Awany, Murushid Juuko, Khalid Aucho, Mike Azira, Faruku Miya, Emmanuel Arnold Okwi, Abdul Lumala, Henry Patrick Kaddu
Robert Odongkara (GK), Charles Lukwago (GK), Nico Wadada, Isaac Muleme, Hassan Wasswa, Halid Lwaliwa, Taddeo Lwanga, William Kizito, Alexis Bakka, Allan Kyambadde, Fahad Bayo, Allan Okello