Thursday Apr 21, 2022. 10:00
Uganda coach Milutin Sredojevic has reacted to the Cranes’ draw for the group stage of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, saying that the players must show that they are hungry to return to the continental tournament.
Uganda were pooled with Algeria, Niger and Tanzania in Group F, with the top two teams earning a spot at next year’s finals in the Ivory Coast.
“The long wait is finally over. I personally believe we are in a competitive group and one of the strongest groups,” ‘Micho’ is quoted by the FUFA website.
“Both Niger and Tanzania have had representatives in the group stages of the CAF club competitions this season, while Algeria were winners of Africa Cup of Nations in 2019 and recent winners of the FIFA Arab Cup.
“Someone would look at Algeria as group favourites but in modern football there are no small teams because gaps in African football have been reduced.”
He added, “We are facing teams with different approaches including two Francophone countries in Algeria and Niger, then CECAFA opponent in Tanzania.
“Algeria have had disappointments recently not making it out of the group stage at the last Africa Cup of Nations and conceding a late goal to miss out on qualifying for the World Cup. So these qualifiers will be a chance to redeem themselves.
“Niger is a team with so many players abroad and very competitive. They have been to three of the last five Africa Cup of Nations editions.
“So many Ugandans would welcome the chance of playing Tanzania but it is a tricky opponent. They will have two teams in CAF Champions League next season, Simba FC is still doing well in CAF Confederation Cup and they have good players abroad.
“In the 2019 qualifiers, we only got one point from Tanzania and therefore we need to respect them.”
Sredojevic, who guided Uganda to AFCON qualification for the 2017 tournament in Gabon, has called on FUFA and the players to show that they want a return to the top table in African football.
“I’m calling upon every stakeholder, all the technical people and all of us in FUFA to have good organisation and detailed strategic plan on how we shall approach these games,” said the Serbian.
“I’m also calling upon the players who are the producers of results that this is the chance to show that you have what it takes to go back to the Africa Cup of Nations.”
The group stage of the qualifiers are scheduled to get underway in late May/early June.