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Uganda announces provisional squad for must-win AFCON qualifying match against Niger

Next month is a “do or die” encounter for the Uganda national team as the Cranes get set to begin preparations for their crucial 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying finale against Niger in Marrakesh, Morocco. Head coach Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic named a 33-player provisional squad for the September 7 clash with the pre-match camp set to begin in two weeks on August 28. Uganda must win and also need Algeria to defeat Tanzania in the other match from Group F to qualify for the finals in Ivory Coast.

The most notable inclusion for Sredojevic is the return of Scottish-based central defender Bevis Mugabi who is back in the Cranes setup after an injury plagued 2022-23 campaign with club Motherwell. Mugabi appears likely to partner in the center with another defender based abroad, Timothy Awany, who played the full match in Uganda’s only victory of the qualifying campaign so far at Tanzania on March 28. Joseph Ochaya returns to the squad after missing out on the previous qualifier against Algeria and adds experience at the left back position after a strong season in the Egyptian Premier League.

Khalid Aucho brings plenty of experience to the heart of the Ugandan midfield after helping Tanzanian giants Young Africans reach the 2022-23 CAF Confederation Cup final. Bobosi Byaruhanga is likely to partner Aucho in the middle while Milton Karisa and Faruku Miya are more attack-minded options with Karisa likely to start on the right wing. Rising young talents Isma Mugulusi and Travis Mutyaba may also get a look for the important occasion.

Uganda’s strikers continue to be the major question mark for a team who have not scored two or more goals in an AFCON or World Cup qualifying match since a 2-0 2021 AFCON qualifying victory against Malawi on November 11, 2019. Fahad Bayo and Emmanuel Okwi are the candidates to lead the forward line and 19-year-old Rogers Mato will likely feature in an attacking role out wide or up top after scoring the crucial winning goal at Tanzania in March. Talented young attackers Ibrahim Kasule and Frank Ssebufu are included in Sredojevic’s squad for the first time after successful starts with the reserve team of Major League Soccer side New York Red Bulls.

The complete list of players in the provisional squad is below.

Goalkeepers

Nafian Alionzi (Free Agent)

Charles Lukwago (Free Agent)

Joel Mutakubwa (BUL FC)

Jamal Salim (Richards Bay, South Africa)

Ismail Watenga (Golden Arrows, South Africa)

Defenders

Timothy Awany (SC Ashdod, Israel)

James Begisa (URA SC)

Elvis Bwomono (ÍBV, Iceland)

Gift Fred (Young Africans, Tanzania)

Aziz Kayondo (Hapoel Tel Aviv, Israel)

Halid Lwaliwa (FK Bregalnica Štip, North Macedonia)

Bevis Mugabi (Motherwell, Scotland)

Isaac Muleme (Viktoria Zizkov, Czech Republic)

Ramathan Musa (MFK Vyškov, Czech Republic)

Kenneth Semakula (SC Villa)

Geoffrey Wasswa (Ethiopian Coffee, Ethiopia)

Midfielders

Khalid Aucho (Young Africans, Tanzania)

Bobosi Byaruhanga (Austin FC II, USA)

Milton Karisa (Vipers SC)

Ibrahim Kasule (New York Red Bulls, USA)

Taddeo Lwanga (APR FC, Rwanda)

Rogers Mato (Şanlıurfaspor, Turkey)

Faruku Miya (Çaykur Rizespor, Turkey)

Isma Mugulusi (Feirense, Portugal)

Travis Mutyaba (SC Villa)

Joseph Ochaya (Arab Contractors, Egypt)

Sentamu Siraje (Vipers SC)

Laban Tibita (URA SC)

Moses Waiswa (KCCA SC)

Forwards

Richard Basangwa (Wadi Degla, Egypt)

Fahad Bayo (MFK Vyškov, Czech Republic)

Emmanuel Okwi (Erbil SC, Iraq)

Frank Ssebufu (New York Red Bulls II, USA)

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