KAMPALA. Uganda starts its 2020 CAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament on April 3 against Ethiopia in Addis Ababa.
The Crested Cranes will re-group, for the first time since they won bronze last September at the Cosafa Tournament in South Africa, this Thursday in a bid to get ready for the said tie.
Coach Faridah Bulega’s 23-man squad will play against a select Kampala Region team this Saturday at StarTimes Stadium, Lugogo as the ladies replicate and join Cranes’ regional tours aimed at endearing national teams to the masses.
Bulega’s squad, however, has notable absentees that she used at Cosafa and Cecafa such as Grace Aluka and Norah Alupo. There is also a group that includes Asia Nakibuuka that has been dropped since the failed attempt against Kenya to qualify for the Africa Women Cup nearly a year ago.
“I have tried to give some new players a chance to showcase what they have,” Bulega said.
“I know what a player like Alupo can give while Nakibuuka has been more of a utility player for Kawempe Muslim.”
Nakibuuka, fielded previously by Bulega as an attacking midfielder, has become a victim of her versatility. Hasifah Nassuna and Shamira Nalujja have been fielded in that role in the recent past but Bulega has also mostly relied on wingers Lilian Mutuzo and Zaina Namuleme for creativity. Bulega also feels, perhaps rightly, that they are behind schedule in preparation for such a vital first round qualifier.
But the confidence will come from the fact that Crested Cranes recovered from a 4-1 drubbing to Ethiopia at Cecafa 2016 to beat them 2-1 in the July 2018 edition of the same tourney courtesy of Aluka and Yudaya Nakayenze’s goals. The winner of this tie plays Cameroon in August in the second round.
“Ideally you need more time but the federation organised this and I am sure they have the calendar. I can make a case for more time but if they tell me work with this, I have no option,” she added.