The beach soccer national team, the Sand Cranes, is racing against time to be in menacing shape for the gigantic Afcon qualifiers against West African giants Ghana on March 22 at the Fufa Technical Center in Njeru.
All is not rosy though, as the team is yet to enter into residential training that was originally scheduled to begin on March 8. Sand Cranes coach Salim Muwonge is concerned with just 12 days left to the fixture.
“We had planned to use the two weeks profitably but we have no option but to wait on what Fufa decides. We want to assess whether the team still understands our playing philosophy,” Muwonge revealed.
That is not all, the Sand Cranes has players plying their trade in the Uganda Premier League (UPL) that is also huffing and puffing to wind up the first round by March 18.
“We are talking to some UPL managers to release those players because the national team duty is a bigger cause. We summon those players according to their beach soccer clubs not UPL status,” Muwonge stressed.
Meddie Kibirige (Isabet, SC Villa), Samson Kirya (Entebbe Sharks, Wakiso Giants), Douglas Muganga (MUBS, Busoga United), Emmanuel Wasswa (SLAU, Villa), Brian Nkuubi (SLAU, URA) and Godfrey Lwesibwa (Buganda Royal, Express) are the players in the middle of the storm.
Incidentally, the aforesaid players form the core of the 20-man summoned team. “We shouldn’t take the Ghana match lightly because they have the same philosophy as Ivory Coast (that ejected Uganda in the last qualifiers),” said Muwonge.
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Coach Muwonge will literally start from scratch since the league is also yet to commence. Last year, Uganda also lost the chance to host the 2020 edition with Senegal taking the rights to host the same event this year.
AFRICA CUP OF NATIONS
Uganda vs. Ghana
Venue: Fufa Technical Centre, Njeru
Return Leg: April 9-10
Ghana vs. Uganda
M. Kibirige, Jamil Maliyamungu, Samson Kirya, Nasser Lwamunda, Godfrey Lwesibwa (pic above), Paul Lule, Davis Kasujja, Douglas Muganga, Paul Kato, Suleiman Ochero, Peter Mukwata, Swaibu Kakwaya, Emmanuel Wasswa, Ronald Magwali, Rica Byaruhanga, Ismail Kawawulo, Brian Nkuubi, Said Munir, Swalleh Ssimbwa and Baker Lukooya