SC Villa dominate Cranes team for Namboole World Cup qualifier

Head Coach Paul Put

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | With five players, Uganda Premier League Champions SC Villa form the largest contingent of locally based players in a Cranes team predominantly composed of international players.

Goalkeeper Braddy Jeans Wokorach, defender Kenneth Semakula plus forwards Ronald Ssekiganda, Patrick Jonah Kakande and Umar Lutalo have been called up by the Cranes coach.

Uganda Cranes Head Coach, Paul Put, has summoned 28 players to begin preparations for the second window of the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.  Uganda Cranes will for the first time in five years, host their games at Namboole Stadium.

The squad features goalkeepers Ismail Watenga, Nafian Alionzi, Crispus Kusiima, and Brady Jeans Wokorach. Defenders called up include Elvis Bwomono, Kenneth Ssemakula, Isaac Muleme, Aziz Kayondo, Nicholas Mwere, Bevis Mugabi (Motherwell), Timothy Awany, Elio Capradossi, and Halid Lwaliwa.

The midfielders selected are Khalid Aucho, Bobosi Byaruhanga, Ronald Ssekiganda, Joel Sserunjogi, Ibrahim Kasule, and Travis Mutyaba. The forwards include Steven Mukwala, Uche Ikpeazu Mubiru, Denis Omedi, Shaban Muhammad, Fahad Bayo, Rogers Mato, Patrick Kakande, Umar Lutalo, and Allan Okello.

The last game played at the stadium was in November 2019, before it was blacklisted by the continental soccer governing body for being substandard.

Coach Paul Put is gearing up the team for a grand return to Namboole, a moment eagerly anticipated by many football supporters as a “coming back home” for the Cranes. The team will enter a residential camp on May 30, 2024.

Uganda’s first game is against Botswana on June 7, followed by a match against Algeria on June 10, 2024. Both games will kick off at 7:00 PM East African Time and will be played under floodlights.

“I believe the players summoned are in the right shape and in perfect condition to represent the country,” the Belgian tactician Paul Put briefly said after announcing the squad on Thursday at FUFA Complex in Mengo

Currently, Uganda Cranes are in the fourth position in Group G with three points having won one game against Somalia and lost one to Guinea. The Cranes are trailing group leaders Algeria who have six points. Botswana and Guinea, holding the second and third positions respectively, also have three points each. Mozambique and Somalia round out the group.

The 23rd edition of the World Cup tournament will have 48 participating countries instead of the conventional 32. This means that African teams as well as teams from the other confederations will secure more slots for the tournament which will be jointly hosted by Canada, the United States of America, and Mexico.

After getting assured of an increase in the number of African countries in the World Cup, the Confederation of African Football-CAF altered the previous qualifying procedure at its Executive Committee meeting in Algiers. Now, 54 countries were seeded in six pots before being randomly placed in nine groups, each with six teams.

The leading team from each of the nine groups will earn an automatic qualification for the World Cup. The four strongest runners-up will engage in an African playoff, with the winners progressing to the inter-confederation playoffs scheduled for March 2026.

Additionally, one team from each of FIFA’s six confederations, excluding UEFA, will participate in the FIFA play-off competition, alongside a team from the host confederation, Concacaf.

Uganda Cranes Squad

Goalkeepers
Isima Bid Rashid Watenga (Lamontville Golden Arrows FC, South Africa), Nafian Alionzi (Defence Forces FC, Ethiopia), Crispus Kusiima (Kitara FC, Uganda), Braddy Jeans Wokorach (SC Villa, Uganda)

Defenders
Elvis Bwomono (St. Mirren FC, Scotland), Kenneth Semakula (SC Villa, Uganda), Isaac Muleme (FK Victoria Zizkov, Czech Republic), Bevis Mugabi (Motherwell FC, Scotland), Abdu Aziizi Kayondo (MFK Vyskov, Czech Republic), Nicholas Mwere (BUL FC, Uganda), Timothy Denis Awany (FC Ashdod, Israel), Capradossi Elio (Calcio Lecco FC, Italy), Halidi Lwaliwa (FK Bregainica Stip, North Macedonia)

Midfielders
Khalid Aucho (Yanga SC, Tanzania), Bobosi Byaruhanga (Austin FC, USA), Ronald Ssekiganda (SC Villa, Uganda), Joel Sserunjogi (KCCA FC, Uganda), Ibrahim Kasule (New York Red Bull II, USA),Travis Mutyaba (Zamalek SC, Egypt)

Forwards
Steven Dese Mukwala (Asante Kotoko FC, Ghana), Uchechukwu Mubiru Ikpeazu (Port Vale, England), Denis Omedi (Kitara FC, Uganda), Muhammad Shaban (KCCA FC, Uganda), Fahad Aziz Bayo (MFK Vyskov, Czech Republic), Rogers Kassim Mato (Brera Strumica), Patrick Jonah Kakande (SC Villa, Uganda), Umar Lutalo (SC Villa, Uganda), Allan Okello (Vipers SC, Uganda)

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URN

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