KAMPALA- The tenets of talent development in the gentleman’s game faced scrutiny during the Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) AGM on January 26.
Now with the politics dust settling, UCA chairman Bashir Ansasira’s first week of his second term starts with the national U-19 boys’ team flying out to Namibia for a week-long ICC Africa World Cup Qualifier.
The Baby Cricket Cranes departed in the early hours of Friday to Windhoek where they will compete against five other nations for a direct ticket to the 2020 ICC Youth World Cup in South Africa.
Uganda last qualified for the global showpiece in 2004 (Bangladesh) and 2006 (Sri Lanka) but the country has fallen short several times since.
Nine players of the 14-man team flagged off to Windhoek yesterday by National Council of Sports Corporate Affairs’ manger Ismail Dhakaba Kigongo were left heartbroken by hosts Kenya in 2017.
Uganda missed out of the World Cup by Net Run Rate. Those memories are still fresh in their minds.
“We want to do it differently,” said team’s poster boy Zephaniah Arinaitwe Katungi.
“The boys know what it feels like to lose,” said UCA CEO Martin Ondeko who was team manager two years ago. “And they will have it at the back of their minds that is no room for slip ups,” he said.
“Failure should be the new motivation for the players that missed out,” Kigongo encouraged the teenagers. “This is something we’ve done so many times. So there is nothing better than treading the same path you’ve been to.”
Team Uganda is buoyed by the recent preparations that had coach Jackson Ogwang’s players split in boot-camps in South Africa and India.
Katungi and skipper Frank Akankwasa spent five weeks at the ICC High Performance Centre in Potchefstroom, South Africa. Ogwang was with six others in India at the Sanjay Farm in Chikli, South Gujarat. “The camps have helped most of us to improve and we are ready,” said Akankwasa.
Interestingly, this is the bulk of players that Ogwang began with at the start of his coaching career in 2013.
“It has been a long journey,” said Ogwang, citing an example of debutant Pascal Murungi who he coached while still a primary four pupil at Nyakasura.
“I know the boys better, they have better chemistry and we want to forget Kenya by qualifying for the World Cup. We do not fear anyone but respect all opponents,” he added.
Uganda is battle for honours against hosts Namibia, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Kenya and Nigeria. There is a slot to the Global World Cup Qualifier for the first runner-up.
TEAM UGANDA TO NAMIBIA
Players: Frank Akankwasa (Captain), Zephaniah Arinaitwe Katungi (Asst. captain), John Gabula, Ronald Opio, Simon Oketcho, Juma Miyagi, Ismail Munir, Pascal Murungi, Trevor Bukenya, Edwin Nuwagaba, Ashraf Ssenkubuge, Ramathan Ochimi, Perry Wazombe, Ronald Opio
Officials: Jackson Ogwang (Coach), Lawrence Ssematimba (Asst. Coach), Alvin Bagaya (Data Analyst), Habiba Kalsum (Physio), Denis Musali (Media Manager), Sylvester Rokani (Head of delegation)
UGANDA: ICC U-19 WC QUALIFIER
TODAY: Kenya vs. Uganda, Windhoek Affies Park
MAR 18: Uganda vs. Sierra Leone, Wanderers
MAR 20: Nigeria vs. Uganda, Windhoek Affies Park
MAR 21: Uganda vs. Namibia, United Ground
MAR 23: Uganda vs. Tanzania, United Ground