Kampala. There is no more hiding place – at home – for the men’s national football team.
Come Saturday, it is clear what is expected of Uganda Cranes coach Sebastien Desabre and his players.
The last time Uganda scored an international qualifying goal at Namboole was last year in September against Egypt, Emmanuel Okwi the executioner. Although the 2019 Africa Nations Cup qualification started off with a crucial 1-0 away win for Uganda, they struggled against the Taifa Stars, which was Desabre’s 10th match without a competitive win since taking over last December.
This has left cranes in an almost must-win situation when they welcome Lesotho, who arrive in the country today, on Saturday.
“All we need is a win and all we need is goals,” said Cranes vice captain Hassan Wasswa, “The players know what is at stake and we are all aware of what we need to do.”
Wasswa, who could start in central defence or in holding midfield, added: “We didn’t play well against Tanzania but we are topping our group and we need to consolidate that on Saturday.”
Saddam Juma and Allan Kateregga are some of the midfielders waiting on Desabre’s call on Saturday having made the final 24-man squad.
“We are all aware that on Saturday we need maximum points,” said Juma, “We are aware of what is at stake and we are not taking Lesotho lightly.
“We have watched a few of their videos and we have an idea of how they play. We shall try to limit their capabilities and work on our strength. Everyone in camp is positive.”
Kateregga, who plays closer to Lesotho with South Africa’s FC Cape Town City, says if all Saturday’s game required was his knowledge about the visitors to succeed, he was ready.
“As a team, we are ready,” he said, “And personally, I’m hungry. I’m hungry to show what I can. But what I can do is continue working hard for the coach to consider me. But in the end, it’s all about the team.”
The players’ resolve was been boosted by news of government chartering a flight for them to Maseru for next Tuesday’s return leg, two days after the Saturday’s match in Kampala.
The news was delivered by President Museveni, who also announced a financial boost of Shs200m towards the team when he hosted them at State House Entebbe on Tuesday night.
President Museveni congratulated the team for posting results that have kept the Cranes top of Group L but urged them to work harder against Lesotho.
Saturday, October 13
Uganda vs Lesotho
Namboole Stadium, 4pm kick-off
Group l standings
Team P W D L F A Pts
Uganda 2 1 1 0 1 0 4
Tanzania 2 0 2 0 1 1 2
Lesotho 2 0 2 0 2 2 2
Cape Verde 2 0 1 1 1 2 1