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Head coach of Uganda Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic has called 12 locally based players for the upcoming international friendly game against Kenya on Thursday at Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi.
The Serbian tactician is preparing for the upcoming Chan 2018 two-legged qualifier against the winner between South Sudan and Somalia in the second-round set for July 14 and the return leg a week later in Kampala.
In-form strikers Geoffrey Sserunkuma, Emma Okwi and Milton Karisa will lead Cranes’ attack against the Harambee Stars who last lost a game a year ago and have enjoyed an unbeaten run both at home and away.
Sserunkuma, who has netted an impressive 18 goals this season including four in the CAF Champions League with KCCA, 12 in the Uganda Premier League and two in the Uganda Cup, is expected to replicate his form at national team level.
Micho has only summoned six foreign-based players including Murushid Juuko (Simba), Shafiq Batambuze (Tusker), Godfrey Walusimbi (Gor Mahia), Yassar Mugerwa (St George), Kirizestom Ntambia (Jimma Aba Buna) and Lebanon-based Hassan Wasswa who is the only player outside Africa on this list.
“We have had two months rest since AFCON in Gabon. It is always a good feeling being called up to the national team and that the coach believes in you. I have played with most of the players on this team so it will be good for cohesion,” said Wasswa, who plies his trade for Lebanese side Nijmeh.
The utility player, who captained the Cranes in their last AFCON 2017 Group D game against Mali in January at Stade d’Oyem, has never lost a game when he has worn the captain’s armband.
Wasswa, who is likely to maintain his captaincy role said, “Playing Kenya is always like a derby because of the rivalry but in this case, it will also give the coach an idea on who will be called up for the Afcon 2019 qualifier against Cape Verde in June. We are ready to give 100% and hope we emerge victorious.”
Since losing to Guinea Bissau in the AFCON 2017 qualifiers home and away in March 2016, Stanley Okumbi’s side has picked up incredible form defeating Congo 2-1 and holding Zambia 1-1 in the last two fixtures in a rather average campaign that saw Kenya fail to qualify for the continent's premier competition for the seventh straight edition.
Three 1-0 wins in friendly matches against Liberia, Mozambique and DR Congo as well as a goalless draw against Uganda in August 2016 have given Kenya confidence as they prepare to host Chan 2018 less than 10 months away.
Uganda Cranes squad
Goalkeepers: Benjamin Ochan (KCCA), Ismail Watenga (Vipers)
Defenders: Nicholas Wakiro Wadada (Vipers), Timothy Denis Awanyi (KCCA), Habib Kavuma (KCCA), Murushid Juuko (Simba, Tanzania), Shafiq Batambuze (Tusker, Kenya), Godfrey Walusimbi (Gor Mahia, Kenya)
Midfielders: Hassan Wasswa Mawanda (Nijmeh, Lebanon), Kirizestom Ntambia (Jimma Aba Buna), Yassar Mugerwa (Saint George, Ethiopia), Moses Waiswa (Vipers), Muzamil Mutyaba (KCCA), Joseph Ochaya (KCCA), Brian Majwega (KCCA)
Strikers: Geofrey Sserunkuma (KCCA), Emmanuel Okwi Arnold (SC Villa), Milton Karisa (Vipers)
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