KAMPALA – A draw and a defeat in the opening two fixtures of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers have left Uganda rock bottom of Group F. However, the Cranes are only one point away from the automatic qualification places. Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic has plenty of time to turn things around but knows that the double-header against Tanzania in September could be crucial to Uganda’s 2023 AFCON qualification hopes.
Nobody expected The Cranes to come away with all the points in the opening qualification game against Algeria. The odds from the best sportsbooks online had Algeria as clear favorites due to the western North African team being ranked 42 places above Uganda in the FIFA world rankings.
Algerian Squad Is Full Of Top-Tier Stars
The Algerian squad brims with talent; some of the players turn out for Europe’s biggest clubs. The Ugandan defense did a fantastic job keeping the Algerian stars at bay, which was no easy task considering Ismael Bennacer is full of confidence after winning the Italian Serie A with AC Milan. Even Islam Slimani, the former Leicester City, Lyon, and Sporting Lisbon striker, was kept quiet.
A 28th-minute goal from Villarreal defender Aissa Mandi put the hosts 1-0 up, with Mohamed Youcef Belali putting the game to bed with an 80th-minute strike. A defeat is always a bitter pill to swallow, but Micho’s men can take a lot away from their impressive performance and use it as a lesson to improve in the coming qualification fixtures.
The Cranes were in action a few days after the Algeria defeat when they hosted Niger at St. Mary’s Stadium, Kitende. Milton Karisa opened the scoring for Uganda as the Crane settled into the game the better of the two teams and created a few good chances. Farouk Miya, usually deadly when close to the goal, missed two guilt-edged opportunities that would have seen Uganda go into the interval with a 3-0 advantage.
Niger came out stronger for the second half, and Mahamadou Amadou Sabo‘s superb strike midway into the second half leveled the game 1-1. Try as they may, Uganda could not force a second goal and ultimately had to settle for a point.
Back-to-Back Games Against Tanzania
The Cranes are next in 2023 Africa Cup of National qualifying action in September when they take on Tanzania in back-to-back games. Although it is not at the stage where these fixtures are must-win for the Cranes, they are Uganda’s best chances of putting some much-needed points onto the board in Group F.
It is almost certain that Algeria will finish first in the group, but the other qualification place is most definitely up for grabs by either Uganda, Niger, or Tanzania. Honestly, Uganda is the best team in Group F, aside from the Algerians.
Uganda has faced Tanzania six times since 2009 and has won four of those games, drawn one, and lost one. The only defeat at the hands of Tanzania came in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. Tanzania won 3-0 in a game that didn’t matter to the Cranes because they were already guaranteed qualification. The most recent meeting between the two nations was on December 9, 2021, in an international friendly. Uganda ran out 2-0 winners away from home thanks to second-half goals from Ivan Asaba (71st minute) and Joseph Bright Vuni (90).
Should the Cranes manage to secure all six points from Tanzania, it would put them in a great position to reach the 2023 AFCON finals, and anything is possible once you get to that stage. Even four points would be a good result for Micho’s men because it would take pressure off them and put it on their fellow group rivals.