Micho during training

Uganda Cranes head coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic has summoned 35 players ahead of the upcoming FIFA International window in March 2022 as the preparations for the Total AFCON 2023 qualifiers start.

The squad has a combination of players in the StarTimes Uganda Premier League (20) and those playing elsewhere (15).

There are 5 goalkeepers, 9 defenders, 6 central midfielders, 7 offensive midfielders and 8 forwards.

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Some of the returning players include Faruku Miya, team captain Emmanuel Okwi, Allan Kyambadde with new faces like Marvin Youngman (Soltilo Bright Stars FC), reigning Airtel FUFA footballer of the year Bobosi Byaruhanga, young players ; goalkeeper Jack Komakech, Steven Sserwadda, Najib Yiga, Derrick Kakooza, Sadat Happy Anaku and Alfred Leku.

Micho intends to use this pool of players for the upcoming four nation mini-tournament (Navruz Cup 2022) in Uzbekistan that will be held between 25th to 29th March in Markaziy Stadium, Namangan city.

Uganda Cranes will play alongside Tajikistan, hosts Uzbekistan and the Kyrgz Republic.

“After qualifying for two consecutive AFCON finals in 2017 and 2019, Uganda Cranes missed out on the 2021 edition in Cameroon. We immediately went for early preparations to ensure qualification for AFCON 2023 in Ivory Coast with an international friendly match in South Africa, CECAFA senior challenge cup in Ethiopia (U-23), international build up in Ethiopia, six FIFA World Cup qualification matches and recently a UEFA-Asia tour,” Micho said.

“The upcoming mini-tournament in Uzbekistan will help us to conduct the main general check-up before the AFCON 2023 qualifiers in June 2022 (1st – 14th June). We have been in transition where several players have retired including captain Dennis Onyango, Hassan Wasswa, Mike Azira, Juuko and others. We have an important duty to make ourselves ready.”

The whole team training programme will be released soon where two internal regional tours have been planned to help assess the returning players and the local legion.

“We shall test the players with internal regional build up and tune the competitive mode since friendly matches are all about trying, testing and experimenting before naming the final 23 players who will travel to Uzbekistan,” Micho added.

The final team to Uzbekistan will then be named before travelling for the first game against Tajikistan on 25th March 2022.

The third place play-off and final matches will then be held on 29th March 2022. All matches will be played at Markaziy stadium in Namangan.

Provisional Squad

Goalkeepers: Charles Lukwago (St George FC, Ethiopia), Alionzi Nafian (URA FC, Uganda), Isma Watenga (Chippa United FC, South Africa), Benjamin Ochan (KCCA FC, Uganda), Jack Komakech (Vipers SC, Uganda)

Defenders: James Begisa (UPDF FC, Uganda), Hassan Jurua (KCCA FC, Uganda), Isaac Muleme (Viktoria Zizkov, Czech Republic), Herbert Achai (KCCA FC, Uganda), Bevis Mugabi (Motherwell FC, Scotland), Timothy Denis Awanyi (Ashdod, Israel), Halid Lwaliwa (Vipers SC, Uganda), Livingstone Mulondo (Vipers SC, Uganda), Fesali Najib (URA FC, Uganda)

Central Midfielders: Khalid Aucho (Yanga, Tanzania), Bobosi Byaruhanga (Vipers, Uganda), Steven Sserwadda (Red Bull New York, USA), George Kasonko (BUL, Uganda), Marvin Youngman (Soltilo Bright Stars, Uganda), Moses Waiswa (Supersport United, South Africa)

Attacking Midfielders: Allan Okello (Paradou, Algeria), Martin Kizza (Express FC, Uganda), Najib Yiga (Vipers SC, Uganda), Allan Kyambadde (El Gouna, Egypt), Faruku Miya (Lviv, Ukraine), Milton Karisa (Vipers SC, Uganda), Rogers Mato (KCCA FC, Uganda)

Forwards: Emmanuel Arnold Okwi (Kiyovu FC, Rwanda), Patrick Henry Kaddu (KCCA FC, Uganda), Mohamed Shaban (Onduparaka FC, Uganda), Fahad Bayo (Bnei Sakhin, Israel), Derrick Kakooza (Walmiera, Latvia), Alfred Leku (Arua Hill SC, Uganda), Yunus Junior Sentamu (Vipers SC, Uganda), Sadat Happy Anaku (KCCA FC, Uganda)