Uganda Cranes returns to the biggest tournament in African football after 39 years absence ironically with a game against Ghana, their last opponent.
The Cranes lost 2-0 to Ghana Black Stars in the 1978 finals and have since been absent from the competition.
Since then, Ghana lifted one more title, in 1982 while the Cranes have suffered heart break after heart break in the qualifiers until September 4, 2016 when they beat Comoros 1-0 to earn a place in Gabon.
Besides 1978, the two nations have met a number of times with Uganda and Ghana winning once in the previous four and drawing the other.
Ghana’s most recent win against Uganda came eleven years ago when Michael Essien and Mathew Amoah scored at the Baba Yara stadium.
Uganda Cranes to miss the pair of Khalid Aucho and Murushid Jjuuko who are serving a one match ban over accumulated yellow cards in the qualifiers
Besides, everybody in the team is fit and raring to go with goalie Denis Onyango also training well with the team to shake off a scare.
Ghana has no suspensions and injuries ahead of the match thus Coach Avram Grant has a full 23 man squad at disposal to pick his team.
What they say:
Uganda Coach Mulitin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic
It’s an honour to be here. Ugandans have been dreaming to be here and we are happy the dream is on now. History will not play against Ghana tomorrow (Tuesday) and the past three matches will not count. We have no experience at AFCON finals but we have planned for the tournament.
Ghana coach Avram Grant
The players have showed good spirit, the quality is good. We will be ready for the first game. We came here to do something good. It’s ok to say we want to win but it would be unprofessional to think we will just get it.
Uganda’s last Africa Nations Cup finals Cup came against Ghana in 1978 when they lost 2-0.The Cranes are unbeaten in the past three meetings with Ghana. Won once and drew the othersGhana have won four AFCON trophies but the most recent came in 1982 when they beat Libya in penalties.The Black Stars have not finished outside the top four in the past five editions, finishing runners-up in 1992, 2010 and 2015.
Players to Watch
Uganda Cranes’ Farouk Miya evades his markers at Namboole. He will be key for Uganda against Ghana
Farouk Miya (Uganda Cranes)
He scored the winner against Comoros to earn Uganda a slot in Gabon and his desire coupled with character will have a big effect on the game at Port Gentil.
A fearless young lad with a lion’s heart and ability to hurt defences with his late runs.
Andre Ayew (Ghana)
Andre Ayew and Asamoah Gyan will be Ghana’s key men against The Cranes
Ghana’s hopes rest largely on West Ham’s Andre ‘Dede’ Ayew, a forward of genuine quality and his return from a long injury is a big blessing for Ghana.
How will Micho line up his troops?
Denis Onyango has been passed fit following an injury in the 3-0 loss to Cote d’Ivoire in a friendly but the absence of Jjuuko and Aucho makes the starting eleven hard to predict.
Hassan Wasswa Mawanda is expected to fill the void at the heart of defence with Geoffrey ‘Baba’ Kizito anchoring the backline.
Uganda Cranes Probable XI:
Denis Onyango (GK), Denis Iguma, Joseph Ochaya, Hassan Wasswa, Isaac Isinde, Geoffrey Baba Kizito, Tonny Mawejje, Mike Azira, William Luwagga Kizito, Farouk Miya and Geoffrey Massa (C).