No suspensions. No injuries. The mood in The Uganda Cranes camp at Radisson Blu hotel is awesome.
Having progressed to the knockout phase of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) for the first time since 1978, The Cranes are now ready to engage another gear. It will be a different ball game in the knockout phrase as all chances created must be put to use unlike in the group stages where points mattered a lot.
Head coach Sebastien Desabre will have a full house at his disposal for selection when they take on Senegal on Friday, July 5 at Cairo International stadium in one of the matches in the round-of-16 at the Afcon finals hosted by Egypt.
Desabre made changes in central defence due to injury picked up by talisman Murushid Juuko. The Frenchman brought in Ronald Mukiibi against Zimbabwe and then Timothy Awany in the final group game against Egypt. But Juuko has fully recovered and will be available for selection.
“He [Juuko] has resumed training and I am happy with the progress. He is a good player who adds value to the team just like the rest,” Desabre said.
There were concerns about shot stopper Denis Onyango and midfield kingpin Khalid Aucho, who both never finished the match against Egypt. However, Onyango has since recovered from flu.
While Aucho was taken off for precautionary measures. All eyes will be on Desabre on the kind of football he will instruct his players to play against Senegal. Desabre is a strong believer in attacking football but he can be shrewd sometimes by changing tactics with different formations that bring results to his teams.
“Senegal is a very good team with quality players. However, I believe in the quality I have in my squad and the players have already demonstrated what they can do. The federation had a target of getting out of the group stages but we’re now enjoying the tournament and staying longer in Egypt,” he said.
With a fierce attack of Senegal expected to be led by Liverpool’s Sadio Mane, The Cranes defence will be out to keep their eyes wide open with maximum attention like they have done in the three games from the group stage.
The Cranes defence has already faced Cedric Bukambu (DR Congo), Mohamd Salah (Egypt) and Khama Billiat (Zimbabwe). Despite two of the trio (Salah and Billiat) getting their names on the scoresheet, Desabre was happy with his defenders for the job well done.
Until the free kick, Salah had been a shadow of himself even after his team took the lead while Bukambu had little impact.
Friday, July 5@10pm: Uganda v Senegal
UGANDA V SENEGAL RECORD
January 13, 2001: Uganda 1 Senegal 1 (Afcon qualifier)
March 24, 2001: Senegal 3 Uganda 0 (Afcon qualifier)
June 9, 2012: Uganda 1 Senegal 1 (World Cup qualifier)
Sept 7, 2013: Senegal 1 Uganda 0 (World Cup qualifier)
June 5, 2017: Senegal 0 Uganda 0 (International friendly)