Cranes can progress to AFCON quarterfinals, says Massa

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Playing at Africa’s biggest football championship will earn FUFA more money.

Geoffrey Massa captained the Cranes at the 2017 AFCON in Gabon

Nations Cup qualifiers

Next matches
November 16
Uganda v Cape Verde
Lesotho v Tanzania

Uganda is yet to qualify for the 2019 Africa Nations Cup finals. However, Cranes’ 2-0 win over Lesotho on Tuesday in Maseru has sparked a wave of excitement.

Cranes still need a point in their next home fixture against Cape Verde to guarantee a place at the finals in Cameroon, but many fans are sure next month’s match against Cape Verde will be the crowning moment for the team’s impressive journey to the finals.

Former stars, like Geoffrey Massa, are also already looking beyond the match against Cape Verde and weighing in with evaluations about the team’s prospects in Cameroon.

“I think we are good enough to make it out of the group. Although we had an easy qualifying group, a number of players in the team have picked up at the right time to lead us to a better finish at the Nations Cup,” Massa told New Vision Thursday.

The former Cranes captain, who led Uganda to her first Nations Cup appearance since 1978 back in 2016, feels the new format adopted by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) also offers Cranes the best possible opportunity of making further ground in the competition.

“Our target should be making it out of the group stages and progressing even further in the tournament,” Massa added.

 The Cranes that played in the 2017 AFCON in Gabon

At the finals, Cranes will be among the 24 teams that will be drawn into six groups of four teams each.

The top two teams and the four best third-placed teams will advance to the round of 16. This new format was applied during the 1986, 1990, and 1994 FIFA World Cups, as well as Euro 2016 and 2019 Asian Cup.

But are Cranes good enough to scale the heights in the continental showpiece?

Yes, Massa thinks so.

His confidence stems from Farouk Miya’s return to full fitness.

“He needed that goal against Lesotho last Saturday. Before then, he had gone about seven games without scoring and that can affect your confidence. It’s a mental problem. But I see him scoring many more goals,” Massa said of the player, who also scored Uganda’s only goal at the finals in Gabon.

Cash bonanza

Playing at Africa’s biggest football championship will earn FUFA more money.

In 2016, CAF signed a lucrative sponsorship deal with French oil giant Total. The eight year sponsorship deal is believed to be worth around $250m (sh836b).

Last year, the 16 teams at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon shared a total of $16.4m (sh62b) with the champions Cameroon earning $4m (sh15b).

The beaten finalists Egypt received $2m (sh8b) with the other two semi-finalists taking home $1.5m (sh6b) each.

A further breakdown of the prize monies saw the quarterfinalists each guaranteed $800,000 (sh3b).

The third-placed teams in each of the groups pocketed $575,000 (sh2b), while the bottom teams got $475,000 (sh1.7b) each.

NewVision.co.ug

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