The news from Parliament yesterday that MPs had contributed more than Shs 200 million was a timely boost to The Cranes' preparation for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon), which kicks off this weekend in Gabon, JOHN VIANNEY NSIMBE and TRACY AKELLO report.
The legislators’ contribution is expected to give Cranes’ players extra incentive as they face Ivory Coast in their last build-up game in Dubai this evening.
The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga confirmed yesterday that the agreed pledge as a House, where every MP would contribute Shs 500,000 for The Cranes would be fulfilled before the team embarks on its Afcon challenge, beginning with Ghana next Tuesday.
Following a directive by Kadaga to the clerk of Parliament, Jane Kibirige, this money due to be deducted from the MPs’ January salaries, is expected to be a big boost to the team’s preparations.
However, a test against Ivory Coast, the Afcon defending champions, will give The Cranes a clearer picture of how ready they are for the challenge ahead.
Cranes are coming off two friendly game wins against Slovenia (1-0) and Slovakia (3-1) which, according to defender Joseph Ochaya, have boosted their confidence.
The team is feeling ready. Yet, it goes without saying that quality in Ivory Coast will be as big as any task Cranes have faced in recent times. Notably, looking at the previous games, it is clear that coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic has been working out the permutations of his first team.
He is, therefore, expected to field the team he believes will face Ghana. For example, goalkeeper Denis Onyango, midfielders Khalid Aucho and Kizito Luwaga plus captain Geoffrey Massa are unlikely to be used off the bench this time.
In games against Slovakia and Slovenia, a number of fringe players like Muhammad Shaban were given a chance. This gave the youthful striker a chance to score his first goal against Slovenia.