Foreign based players have again dominated the pack as the new Uganda Cranes coach Johnny McKinstry named a 25 man squad that will play the African Nations Cup Qualifiers.
FUFA recently launched a campaign Code name “366 Back to Namboole with Cranes” that will see Uganda play away to Burkina Faso on November 13 in their opening qualifying game, before hosting Malawi in Kampala in their opening games of the qualifiers.
On Wednesday, the Irishman named a 25 man squad with only five StarTimes Uganda Premier League players included.
These were Charles Lukwago (KCCA FC), Halid Lwaliwa, Fahad Bayo (both Vipers) Allan Okello and Nicholas Kasozi(both KCCA FC)
“We looked at a number of issues before determining who to summon. The current form and availability of a gap for them (local-based players) before choosing who to summon,” McKinstry said.
He explained that before choosing players to summon, especially from the local league, he looked at the skills gap that the foreign based players cannot fill but also the form of the players.
“They(local based players) still have opportunities in the future but we had to choose players we thought are ready,” he insisted.
Old wine in new container
The provisional squad announced by the new Cranes coach had a feel of old wine in a new container with the biggest percentage of the players summoned being the usual names that have always appeared.
The Irishman, however, defended the position saying the team will have a few days to train before they play their first game away in Burkina Faso.
“The 25 man squad will come together only two days prior to the game because a number of them will have games in their respective leagues,” McKinstry said.
“Even when you look at Gareth Southgate who took over from Sam Alladyce and the Belgium coach, when they took over the teams, there were not so many new names in the squad. You can only use good players who have been around and performing. The best players of a country can’t change overnight.”
Uganda was pitted against Burkina Faso, Malawi and South Sudan in group B.
Uganda’s first home game against Malawi will be exactly 366 days after their game at Namboole in which a Patrick Kaddu goal sent Uganda to the 2019 AFCON finals in Egypt.
The Cranes 25 man squad in full
Dennis Onyango (Mamelodi Sundowns,South Africa), Robert Odongkara (Horoya AC, Guinea), Charles Lukwago (KCCA, Uganda).
Ronald Mukiibi (Ostersunds FK, Sweden), Nico Wakiro Wadada (Azam, Tanzania), Bevis Mugabi (Motherwell, Scotland), Murushid Jjuuko (Wydad Casablanca, Morocco), Timothy Denis Awany (Sport Club Ironi Ashdod, Israel), Hassan Wasswa Mawanda (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia), Halid Lwaliwa (Vipers, Uganda), Isaac Muleme (Viktoria Zizkov, Czech Republic), Joseph Ochaya (TP Mazembe, Democratic Republic of Congo).
Michael Azira (Chicago Fire, USA), Khalid Aucho (Misr Lel Makasa, Egypt), Tadeo Lwanga (Tanta, Egypt), Nicholas Kasozi (KCCA, Uganda), Allan Okello (KCCA, Uganda), Allan Kyambadde (El Gouna, Egypt).
Emmanuel Arnold Okwi (Ittihad Alexandria, Egypt), Patrick Henry Kaddu (RS Berkane, Morocco), Alexis Bbakka (Carlstad United BK, Sweden), Fahad Bayo (Vipers, Uganda), Farouk Miya (Konyaspor, Turkey), Abdu Lumala (Pyramids, Egypt), William Kizito Luwagga (Shakhter Karaganda, Kazahstan)
Head Coach: Jonathan McKinstry
1st Assistant Coach: Abdallah Mubiru
2nd Assistant Coach: Livingstone Mbabazi
Fitness Coach: Alexander McCarthy
Goalkeeping Coach: Fred Kajoba
Equipment Manager: Ayub Balyejusa
Team Coordinator: Geoffrey Massa