Defensive concerns as Crested Cranes date Swazis in Cosafa debut


KAMPALA. Coach Faridah Bulega had built a tough team to beat over the last five months.
Her national women’s football team Crested Cranes finished as runners up at the Cecafa Women’s Championship in July – at the expense of Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia – largely relying on defensive organisation.

The defence was marshalled by Yudaya Nakayenze and Shadia Nankya, who alongside left-back Grace Aluka provided an aerial threat during set pieces. The latter two could miss Uganda’s debut at the Cosafa Championship where the team was invited and drawn in Group C alongside 2011 champions Zimbabwe, 2006 runners-up Namibia and minnows Swaziland.
Nakayenze is no longer part of the set up since she moved to Kansas Community College – USA for further studies last month. Aluka and Nankya, who was expected to partner with Bridget Nabisalu, are under 18 were held back over with four others as majority of the contingent got visas clearances to South Africa on Monday.

According to Fufa’s national teams manager Patrick Ntege, the six including reserve centreback Asia Nakibuuka, Cecafa revelation Lillian Mutuuzo and striker Juliet Nalukenge, who has started all six games managed by Bulega so far, should make it to Port Elizabeth today after they were cleared yesterday.
“They should be there in time for the game but it’s up to the coach to assess if they are in position to play,” Ntege told Daily Monitor.

If Bulega decides the six are too late to play against Swaziland, Shakira Mutiibwa could partner Nabisalu at the back. Aluka could be replaced by Tracy Jones Akiror, who was endorsed by the coach as captain ahead of Hasifah Nassuna.
Even with these few positions at the back, it is surprising Kawempe defender and four time league champion Mariam Nakabugo is yet to win Bulega’s trust. Nakabugo was also voted MVP at the regional East Africa Schools Games in Rwanda but was dropped when Bulega treamed her squad from 23 to 20.

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