LUZIRA – The Uganda national men’s football team, the Cranes kick-started preparations for the upcoming 2020 CHAN Championships on Monday, March 2.
The team that features only local-based players who are currently camped at GEMS Cambridge facility in Luzira took part in a single training session.
A total of 31 players were present on the day although some, including injured KCCA FC captain and goalkeeper Charles Lukwago did not take part in the day’s session.
KCCA FC duo of Mustapha Kizza and John Revita plus Vipers SC skipper Halid Lwaliwa were absent on the day.
Speaking after Monday’s training, Uganda Cranes head coach Johnathan McKinstry was impressed by the response of the players.
“t has been a good first day. We got all the players in last night for their medical check ups and everyone registered plus, noted the North Irishman.
“We had a team meeting to outline or expectations for the coming weeks and everyone was clear about what we are looking for.
“We have four to five weeks until the tournament kicks off so it will be a step by step process.”
The team of 34 players which was summoned last week features upto 14 players who have never trained under McKinstry but the tactician is not worried about them (player) fitting into his style of play.
“Obviously some of these boys were part of our group in the CECAFA tournament so they are ahead in terms of our playing mode.
“We have 14 players who haven’t worked with me as a coach before so they have to learn somethings in terms of how to play.
“But i thought today was a good start for them and those who have been with us before helped to rise the intensity which was good. The boys looked determined and all in all, it was a good start.”
The Cranes have pre-dominantly trained at Lugogo and Nambole in the past especially the team featuring only local based players.
However, they time round, they opted for Luzira as the conditions there are similar to those in Cameroon where the CHAN tournament will ne hosted next month.
“We had several options in terms of where we could hold the training camp but we wanted an environment similar to what we expect in Cameroon, explained McKinstry.
“You can’t get the same environment but the field here is a good grass-field and they have flood lights which will help as all our three group games will be 8 o’clock games in the evening so they will be played under the lights.
“We have lights here and we will train under them on some occasions so it was not just the case of training around Kampala but rather where we get the best environment similar to Cameroon so as we prepare the team in the best way possible.”
Uganda is in group C of the 2020 CHAN featuring defending champions Morocco, Togo and Rwanda.
This will be the 5th time the Cranes competes at the finals’ tournament. However, they have never progressed past the group stages.
Tuesday will be the second day of training and the team is expected to hold another single session which will not feature KCCA FC and Proline FC players who will be away due to a league match between the two sides at Lugogo.
The complete list of players summoned
Charles Lukwago (KCCA), Joel Mutakubwa (Kyetume), Alionzi Nafian (URA), Saidi Keni (Villa), Edwin Kiwanuka Buule (Bright Stars)
Mustafa Kizza (KCCA), Derrick Ndahiro (Villa), Samuel Kato (KCCA), Herbert Achai (KCCA), Paul Willa (Vipers), Ashraf Mandela (URA), Geoffrey Wasswa (Vipers), Halid Lwaliwa (Vipers), Mbowa Patrick (URA), John Revita (KCCA), Mustafa Mujuzi (Proline)
Shafic Kagimu (URA), Saidi Kyeyune (URA), Bright Anukani (Proline), Paul Mucureezi (Vipers), Mike Mutyaba (KCCA), Karim Watambala (Vipers), Hassan Ssenyonjo (Wakiso Giants), David Owori (SC Villa), Ibrahim Orit (Mbarara), Julius Poloto (KCCA)
Samson Kigozi (Police), Viane Ssekajugo (Wakiso Giants), Milton Karisa (Vipers), Joachim Ojera (URA), Fahad Bayo (Vipers), Steven Mukwala (Maroons), Cromwell Rwothomio (URA), Brian Aheebwa (Mbarara)