Afcon: Cranes must beat Algeria

Uganda Cranes’ Milton Karisa (left) in action against Tanzania Taifa Stars in March 2023. Cranes host Algeria on June 18

An upset win over Algeria would leave Cranes with a chance to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals due next year in Ivory Coast, reports, Mark Namanya.

For Uganda Cranes, the mathematics is not complex. All the boys have to do is to stun Algeria in Sunday’s penultimate qualifier and maintain control of their destiny.

It helps matters that Algeria, who have a 100 percent record, have already qualified and will possibly field an experimental team at Japoma stadium in Douala, Cameroon. By the time Cranes get onto the pitch, they will have known the result between Tanzania and Niger at the Benjamin Mkapa stadium in Dar es Salaam.

The ideal result for Cranes is a win for Niger, obviously. But Uganda would be best served to handle its own matters and destiny rather than rely on results elsewhere. The Cranes have not been known to thrive from results happening elsewhere. History has shown time and again that oftentimes, those results go against Uganda.

If Uganda can somehow stun the Desert Warriors, it would mean that Cranes travel to play the Menas with a genuine shout for qualification on the last day of Group F matches. Considering that Niger are also playing their qualifiers on foreign soil, Uganda Cranes would have a realistic shot at qualification.

However, should Uganda lose to the group’s strongest team Algeria on Sunday, it would leave Cranes’ chances in tatters. As it stands, Uganda and Tanzania are presently tied in all forms and aspects on the table.

Both countries have won and drawn a game to go along with two defeats. Likewise, the East African neighbours have scored and conceded the same number of goals.

The two games left for the two countries are showdowns against Algeria and Niger and the team that negotiates the two fixtures best will accompany the Desert Warriors to next year’s edition to be hosted in Ivory Coast in January and February.

Cranes coach Micho, who masterminded Uganda’s return to the Africa Cup of Nations after a 39-year drought, has his work cut out in trying to return Uganda to the biggest tournament on the continent.

There is a common consensus around observers of the game that there is a glaring lack of quality in the current national team fold when compared to the team that made back-to-back Afcon finals in 2017 and 2019.

Micho, however, is the master of conjuring results when least expected, and Sunday will provide him with the perfect opportunity to confound his sea of critics. Defeat on Sunday will almost certainly end Uganda’s qualification hopes.

Sunday, June 18@6pm: Uganda Cranes v Algeria – Douala, Cameroon

Source: The Observer

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