Patriotic Cranes ready to unleash fire on Rwanda’s Amavubi Stars, says Micho

Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic has said that Uganda will ride on the element of patriotism, and it is a fire that the Cranes will need when they face Vincent Mashami’s Amavubi Stars on Thursday.

The Cranes face Rwanda in back to back group E FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers, with the first of the two ames to be played at the Nyamirambo Stadium in Kigali.

The game has been historically charged comes at a time when the two nations’ diplomatic ties have suffered severely, underlining the need for Micho to remind his team that they cannot take their eyes off the ball.

“Uganda is a country with over 40 million coaches, but I have been given the responsibility to be the head coach,.” Micho said in his press conference at FUFA House on Tuesday morning.

“I believe in these players more than my coaching. I know that inside them, there is that positive element of patriotism and fire in their heart of playing and giving the best happiness to their people.”

“I believe that the fire within the players will unleash the best version of themselves and the best version of the Ugandan football lions that will roar at Nyamirambo, he added.

The Serbian who returned to the Cranes’ coaching role in August, did not have the best of starts to his second reign, losing his first game in charge against Ethiopia in a friendly.

What followed were two drab performances against Kenya as the Cranes got their 2022 World Cup qualifier underway before again struggling at home to Mali in the second qualifier in September.

Micho seemed to suggest then that the Cranes were affected by the lack of a competitive edge needed in to get results in a game of the magnitude of the World Cup qualifiers, with little action locally due to the July lock down coupled with the lack of action for the foreign based stars.

However, the Cranes coach feels that the team is in a better competitive shape with some local clubs having a bit of action, while the foreign leagues are in full gear now.

“I think our players playing professionally have improved and are in a better competitive mode, and the players who play locally have worked with their respective teams,” Micho stated.

“We have played the regional tour match in Mbale, played four matches in between and we believe we have reached the desired competitive level that helps us get better results than the previous two games.”

“I believe in the work we have been doing and the players we are having. We are looking forward to rallying behind your support to get us over the line,” the Serbian continued.

The games against Rwanda have a different significance for Micho as he comes up with his former side, who are coached by his former assistant Mashami from his time in Rwanda.

And Micho relishes meeting his apprentice; It is true that Mashami is a boy who grew up in Jinja and has grown into his nation’s national team coach.”

“I respect him as my student, but I would like to remind him that professor has not forgotten the lesson. I have much respect to coach Vincent Mashami and the players in the Amavubi Stars squad.”

“I know they are thinking of the six points but we also want the six points, but the field of play will answer that when we get there,” Micho declared.

For the Rwandan quest, Micho confirmed a 25-player squad that was dominated by local based players as the Cranes continue with their transition.

URA FC defender Najib Fesali, Livingstone Mulondo and striker Cromwell Rwothomio were included on the Cranes squad for the first time, while Julius Poloto and Wasswa Geoffrey returned to the Cranes fold after a long while.

With captain Emmanuel Okwi dropped, Khalid Aucho will captain the Cranes team while defender Timothy Awany returns in place of Murushid Juuko who is suspended for the games.

Taddeo Lwanga missed the first two qualifiers through injury but has been included on the travelling squad, while Fahad Bayo also returns.

The Uganda Cranes squad:

Goalkeepers: Charles Lukwago, Isma Watenga, Alionzi Nafian

Defenders: Innocent Wafula, Isaac Muleme, Mustafa Kizza, Aziz Kayondo, Najib Fesali, Enock Walusimbi, Livingstone Mulondo, Denis Iguma, Timothy Awany, Wasswa Geoffrey

Midfielders: Khalid Aucho, Moses Waiswa, Taddeo Lwanga, Bobosi Byaruhanga, Shafik Kagimu, Julius Poloto, Ibrahim Orit

Forwards: Mukwala Steven, Martin Kizza, Yunus Ssentamu, Cromwell Rwothomio, Fahad Bayo

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