Kampala. Uganda coach Sebastien Desabre (pic right) spoke in glowing terms of new national team call-up Juma Balinya as the Cranes started non-residential training at Lugogo yesterday.
The Police forward, who can create and score them with relative calm, was rewarded for his 16 goals and a couple of assists in the topflight league with a summon to vie for a slot in the final team to face Tanzania in the 2019 Nations Cup qualifier next Sunday.
“I needed time to ascertain concretely with this boy but I follow him for a long time in the local league,” said Desabre.
“And I think it is normal for him to come because he deserves. This is another challenge for him to show (his worth).
“Sure it’s a challenge and I speak with him and with other (new) players and they are looking forward.”
Only nine
With only nine home-based players to be picked from 31 after a regional match this weekend ahead of a trip to Cairo for a camp before connecting to Dar es Salaam later next week, the competition for places cannot be overstated.
“We have about five training sessions for them to show some good things,” added Desabre.
“There are some other players that are very good in the same (Balinya’s) position. I have this weekend and the Saturday game to choose the finalists.”
Villa’s Bashir Mutanda, Kirinya’s Joel Madondo, Vipers Moses Waiswa and KCCA’s Allan Okello among others form a cast of Balinya’s competitors.
The nine will join 15 foreign-based stars for the Egypt camp.
Steady rise
Balinya, 25, played his youth football at Friends of Football, Old Kampala and St Mary’s Kitende. He later transitioned to Vipers before injuries curtailed his progress.
The journey from there saw him have a stint in Djibouti, then back home at Lweza and finally at Police, where his promise, under coach Abdallah Mubiru has come through.
“I am delighted to be part of the team,” said the attacking midfielder, “I will give my best because this is a dream for us players to play for the national team.”
While Uganda already qualified for Afcon finals due in Egyt in June and July with a game to spare, Tanzania must beat the visitors next week and hope Cape Verde stop Lesotho for the Taifa Stars to qualify from Group L alongside East African neighbours Cranes.
Uganda have 13 points, while Lesotho and Tanzania each have five respectively. Cape Verde stand on four.

The 15 foreign-based players for camp in Cairo,Egypt
Denis Onyango, Jamal Salim,
Robert Odongkara, Murushid Juuko,
Denis Iguma, Nicolas Wadada, Herbert
Bockhorn, Moses Opondo, Joseph
Ochaya, Khalid Aucho, Faruku Miya,
Edris Lubega, Emma Okwi, Karisa Milton,
Muhammad Shaban

Aishi Manula (Simab SC),
Mechata Mnata (Mbao FC), Aron Kalambo
(TZ Prisons), Suleiman Salula (Malindi FC)

Vincent Andrew (Young
Africans), Kelvin Yondani (Young Africans)
Vincent Philipo (Mbao FC), Hassan Kessy
(Nkana FC, Zambia), Gadiel Michael (Young
Africans), Aggrey Morris (Azam FC),
Kennedy Wilson (Singida Utd), Ali Sonso
(Lipuli FC)

Himid Mao (Petrojet FC,
Egypt), Mudathir Yahya (Azam FC), Jonas
Mkude (Simba SC), Simon Msuva (El
Jadida), Shiza Kichuya (ENPPI SC), Farid
Mussa (Tenerife), Feisal Salum (Young

Thomas Ulimwengu (JS
Saoura, Algeria), Rashid Mandawa (BDF XI,
Botswana), Shaaban Idd Chilunda (Tenerife,
Spain) Yahya Zaid (Ismaily, Egypt), John
Bocco (Simba SC), Mbwana Samatta
(Genk, Belgium)

The 31 local-based players
Nicholas Sebwato, Saidi Keni, James Alitho, Charles Lukwago, Filbert Obenchan, Paul Willa, Samson Mutyaba, Mustapha Kizza, Brian Majwega, Godfrey Walusimbi , Timothy Awanyi, Paul Mbowa, Musitafa Mujuzi, Halid Lwaliwa , Rashid Toha, Hassan Wasswa Mawanda, Sadam Juma, Ivan Eyam, Taddeo Lwanga, Allan Okello, Moses Waiswa, Bright Anukani, David Owori, Allan Kyambadde, Micheal Birungi, Julius Poloto, Juma Balinya, Daniel Serunkuma, Henry Kaddu, Joel Madondo, Bashir Mutanda