The Cranes started preparations for the 2019 CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup that will be staged in Kampala from December 7th – 19th as they search for a record 15th titles.
However, head coach Johnathan McKinstry is looking at using the tournament as a process to achieve even bigger dreams with the Cranes.
Especially with the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers which are already underway and the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers that are around the corner
“We are 80% focused on it (qualification for the AFCON and world cup), but CECAFA is part of a bigger process,” McKinstry told journalists after the team’s training session on Wednesday morning at StarTimes Stadium Lugogo.
“We are using the CECAFA to build towards CHAN (2020), and obviously CHAN is part of the process of having these boys ready for the senior national team ahead of the World Cup Qualifiers and the Africa Cup of Nations.”
McKinstry is no stranger to the regional tournament having guided the Amavubi Stars of Rwanda to the 2015 finals before falling to Uganda in the final 1-0, it’s the last time Uganda won the tournament.
Much as there is the hunger and desire to claim title number 15, the Irishman won’t dwell much on the hunger of the nation and expectant fans.
He prefers to guide the players through how he wants the team to play and he believes he has ample time to achieve that
“CECAFA is something we want to do well but its part of our overall plan, and the things we are telling these players about are not different from what we tell the senior national team about.”
“I had a couple of days with some of these boys when we played the regional tour in Katakwi but this is really my first time to get a good week and half of coaching them as we lead into the CECAFA tournament.”
“We need to pay attention to how and when on the pitch we use possession, and where we exploit space and I am confident in the coming days they will be fully understood,” McKinstry noted.
The Cranes who are record winners of the championship have been drawn in Group A alongside 2005 and four time winners Ethiopia, Burundi who were runners up in 2004 and minnows Eritrea whose best finish was fourth in 1994.
Goalkeeper: Charles Lukwago (KCCA FC), James Alitho (URA), Joel Mutakubwa (Kyetume FC), Jack Komakech (Football for Good), Keni Saidi (SC Villa)
Defender: Paul Willa (Vipers SC), Ashraf Mandela (URA FC), Mustapha Kizza (KCCA FC), Disan Galiwango (Express FC) John Revita (KCCA FC), Samuel Kato (KCCA FC), Halid Lwaliwa (Vipers SC), Musitafa Mujuzi (Proline FC), Paul Mbowa (URA FC)
Midfielders: Nicholas Kasozi (KCCA FC), Shafiq Kagimu (URA FC), Hassan Ssenyonjo (Wakiso Giants FC), Muzamiru Mutyaba (KCCA FC), Karim Watambala (Vipers FC), Kirizestom Ntambi (Wakiso Giants FC), Allan Okello (KCCA FC), Bright Anukani (Proline FC), Joachim Ojera (URA FC)
Strikers: Ben Ocen (Police FC), Vianne Ssekajjugo (Wakiso Giants FC), Allan Kayiwa (Vipers SC), Joel Madondo (Busoga United FC), Fahad Bayo (Vipers SC), Stephen Mukwala (Maroons FC), Lubega Edrisa (Proline FC)