KAMPALA. When Sebastien Desabre penned a three-year contract as cranes coach in December 2017, his immediate objective was to guide the Cranes to their second successive Afcon finals, and then improve on their Gabon performance by progressing from the group. And when the Cranes open against perennial campaigners DRC on June 22 in Cairo, before facing Zimbabwe and wrapping Group A against Egypt; expectations will just be as such.
“Of course the final game of the group for us will depend on what is needed at the time,” Desabre told Daily Monitor, “If we get into that game when Egypt have already qualified, the better. But it is possible to beat Egypt.
“But it is the first match that is very important for us. Important for the confidence and for direction the tournament will take.”
Uganda have played Egypt in recent times, just losing to them by an odd goal and beating them in Kampala in the 2018 World Cup qualification.
“We achieved our first objective by building onto what we found and qualifying with one match to go,” Desabre told Daily Monitor.
“Now we go to the finals in Egypt and our first objective is to get out of the group, then after that we do our best and see.” Arguably the group of death, Uganda’s pool has seven-time champions and hosts Egypt, two time champions DRC, and in-form Zimbabwe, who have only three finals appearances. “The group is difficult but we also have our strength,” assured Desabre, “I know very well DR Congo, I know Egypt- I worked there. One of their national team players was my player (at Ismaily).
Very good attack
“Zimbabwe also have a very good attack. But in this moment, it is important to focus on our team.”
The 42-year-old added: “We are going to take game by game. We have a chance to finish first, second or third but our objective is to finish first in the group.”
The top two from six groups and the best four third-placed teams will progress to the round of 16.
“We may not have the big players but we have a collective. Ours is collective and good preparations.”
Those preparations continue today through May 27 when the team departs for Abu Dhabi, where they will camp for three weeks before arriving in Cairo, Egypt on June 17.
Elsewhere, the Cranes team preparing for Cosafa – coached by Abdallah Mubiru - also continues training for the tournament that runs from May 25 to June 8. Afcon-bound Cranes team face the Cosafa one in a practice match tomorrow at Namboole.
KAMPALA CAMP (MAY 13-27)
May 16: Uganda Cranes vs. Cranes Cosafa XI
May 25: Uganda Cranes vs. TBA side
Abu Dhabi camp (May 27-June 17)
May 27: Leave for Abu Dhabi (three weeks)
June 9: Uganda Cranes vs. TBA side
June 15: Uganda Cranes vs. Ivory Coast