Ghana vs Uganda, 6.30pm (LIVE SS4/UBC)
Group A :Libya, Guinea, DR Congo, Tunisia
Group B: Zambia, Cameroon, Nigeria, Algeria
Group C: Gabon, Morocco, Mali, Ivory Coast
Group D: Burkina Faso, South Africa, Cape Verde, Senegal
Group E: Uganda, Congo, Egypt, Ghana
1: Oct 3-11 2016
2: Nov 7-15 2016
3/4: Aug 28-Sept 5 2017
5: Oct 2-10 2017
6: Nov 6-14 2017
Before qualification for their first African Nations Cup finals can sink in, Uganda Cranes find themselves in the dip end of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
The reward for dominating six brutal games will be a dream ticket as one of five African representatives to the World Cup. While qualification for the Nations Cup brought great scenes of joy from a glory starved nation, taking the act a step further to Russia would stun the world.
Cranes coach, Serbian Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic was unfazed when the draw saw him placed in a group that has two teams that have been to the World Cup before. He said success in the Africa Cup of Nations qualification will be the perfect launch pad for the World Cup qualifiers – uncharted territory for Uganda so far.
“Once we finish that (qualification for Gabon) we shall fly on the wings of confidence go to play World Cup qualifiers where we need to meet top class teams with no pressure on us,” Micho said Uganda after the draw.
“Against these giants, the mental part is most important. Technically we shall be up to standard but question is can the whole country stand behind us with just 10 percent of a budget compared to others we are competing against?”
Money issues, for team and self, have been on the coach’s mind since then, with him creating a storm about salary arrears soon after qualification for Gabon.
How much of that has taken his players off the ball, will be seen Friday when they play their second game since qualification for Gabon.
They lost the first game, a friendly against Togo Tuesday, and Micho was quick to state that Cranes were happy with what they achieved in the game.
“We have no time to dwell on the result of the game we played against Togo because our focus has always been on the game against Ghana. The Togo game simply helped us identify areas we need to improve and polish some others to help us get a very good result in Tamale,” the coach said.
Other than doubts about goalkeeper Denis Onyango, Micho has his full team ahead of the key opening game at Tamale Sports Stadium.
Asamoah Gyan uneasy
Ghana’s Black Stars, without injured midfielders Andre ‘Dede’ Ayew and Kwadwo Asamoah, will be led by veteran striker Asamoah Gyan who is wary of the Ugandan visitors.
Asamoah Gyan told the press that since becoming a member of the national team in 2003, the Ugandans have been a ‘headache’, adding that, “mostly we either draw or they win but the time has come for us to stop them and do so in style on Friday.”