AFCON qualifiers – Group B
Uganda vs South Sudan
St. Mary’s Stadium, Kitende
Thursday, 12-11-2020 @4pm
KITENDE – The Uganda Cranes will be out to continue their fine start to the 2022 Africa Cup of nations qualifiers when they host South Sudan on Thursday afternoon at the St. Mary’s Stadium in Kitende.
The Cranes currently sit top of their group (B) with four points from their opening two games.
A goalless draw away to Burkina Faso was followed up with a 2-0 victory at home to Malawi, ensuring Johnathan McKinstry’s side top the standings and maintain two clean-sheets as of today.
The game on Thursday is their first competitive fixture in 360 days as they have had to wait for awhile due to the Coronavirus which has hit the footballing world.
The build up to the game has been a trying one but the team held a training camp in Dubai last month which was followed up with a 10-day camp at Lugogo.
The camp at Lugogo featured only local-based players and a handful of professionals and this will be a huge task for the players to try and execute everything that has been passed onto them-mostly through videos and phone calls, by the technical team.
Among the 27 players who were in the final squad, three have had to pull out in the last few days, leaving the Cranes with 24 (players). Alexis Bbaka, Ikpeazu Mubiru and Alex Kakuba are the players who will not be available for selection on Thursday.
Uganda is usually strong at home and they will be expected to take care of South Sudan at Kitende and better their chances of reaching a third successive AFCON finals.
The game will be played behind closed doors due to the guidelines put in place by the government, hindering gatherings.
What they are saying ahead of the game
Denis Onyango, Cranes captain
“One would think it is going to be easy against South Sudan because they are a new side both as a nation and a football team but it is going to be difficult because we do not have fans in the stadium.
“The other thing is that they are our neighbours and whenever we play the countries close to us-geographically, they give us problems.
“We have to work hard to win this game and the next so as to better our chances of progression.
“The players need to be focused as we will play at an empty stadium.”
Johnathan McKinstry, Cranes head coach
“I am confident we have prepared the best way possible.
“Obviously, we have a squad that has been together for just a few days but we had a local-based players for over 10 days which is good.
“This is a big test for us and everything we did in all the past months, the information we shared together as we prepared for this.
“The spirits are high but we have to go and do what we have to do. It is not an easy game because South Sudan have improved a lot in the last few years but we are obligated to win it.”
For South Sudan, they are currently bottom of the group and desperate for their first points after losing their opening two games.
The Bright Stars who have never qualified for the AFCON finals lost 1-0 away to Malawi before they were defeated 2-1 at home to Burkina Faso in their latest fixture.
It will be a big task trying to take anything away from this game but coming up against their neighbours should be good-enough motivation for the Bright Stars as they seek for their opening points in the campaign.
This will be the sixth meeting between the two sides eversince South Sudan was integrated into CAF.
In the previous five meetings, Uganda has won three and drawn twice with an aggregate score of 16-4.
The last two games between the two sides have both ended 5-1 in favour of the Cranes.
Uganda heads into the game having lost only one of their last 11 AFCON qualifiers (W7 D3). The only loss in that period came in a 3-0 defeat to Tanzania in a dead-rubber as the Cranea had already sealed qualification for the 2019 AFCON finals.
At home, Uganda are unbeaten in their last eight AFCON qualifiers (W6 D2). During that period, the Cranes are yet to concede a single goal, scoring 10 at the other end.
The last time Uganda lost an AFCON Qualifier was on 11-10-2014 when they went down 1-0 against Togo at Namboole.
For South Sudan, they head into the game having won only three of their past 16 AFCON qualifiers, losing all the other 13.
Away from home, they have won only one of their 10 qualifiers, losing the other nine. The solo victory came in a 1-0 defeat of Seychelles in October 2019.