Kampala, Uganda – The Uganda Cranes and The Swallows of Burundi will this week have a high mountain to climb as they encounter their decisive games at the ongoing Africa Nations Champions (CHAN) in South Africa.
Ethiopia are the other members from Council for East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA) region taking part in the continental tournament that was created for players featuring or are active in the national or domestic leagues.
While Uganda and Ethiopia have had a taste of CHAN football, the ongoing tournament will be Burundi’s first time to reach the finals of a CAF senior national team competition.
In their first appearance at 2011 CHAN that was held in Sudan, Uganda Cranes lost all their group games managing to score just a solitary goal before exiting the tournament rooted at the bottom of the log.
In South Africa, Uganda Cranes, have a chance to come good during the ongoing third edition of Chan tournament while Burundi has a rare chance to make history.
But in their endeavor, Uganda Cranes face an uphill task of overcoming Zimbabwe on Tuesday and North African giants Morocco on Friday. The team will require a win from both games to go through to the next round.
Burundi takes on Gabon this Monday, Mauritania on Friday and Congo DR on Tuesday next week at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane.
Despite pundits getting wary of Cranes high task, head coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic preferred to instill belief into his team saying that their underdog status could play out as a motivational factor.
“It has not been easy. We have been working very hard. We believe we are ready. The players know that we are going to battle,” Micho told journalists in Kampala before the team departed for South Africa last week.
The same sentiments were shared by team captain Denis Iguma who said the team was going to South Africa to give their best. “We shall not let you down,” he said.
Moses Magogo the Federation of Uganda Football Association president speaking at a press conference before a dinner organized by the team’s sponsor’s Airtel at Serena Hotel in Kampala said the team was in shape.
“We have prepared the team very well. We think with the preparations we have had the team is in shape,” Magogo told members of the press.
Magogo said the team was in South Africa with three objectives, one was to win the tournament, two was to add experience to local players and thirdly to expose players to opportunities to play abroad.
To motivate the players, Airtel will be rewarding each goal scored by the Cranes with cash Prize of Ush2m which will go to a selected charity to develop football at the grassroot level.