Uganda Cranes head coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic named his 40-man provisional squad on Wednesday after an impressive first phase of non-residential training came to an end on Tuesday.
The Serbian tactician has summoned five goalkeepers including number one choice Dennis Onyango (Mamelodi Sundowns), Robert Odongkara (St George), Salim Jamal (El Merreikh) as well as the locally based duo of Ismail Watenga of Vipers and KCCA’s Benjamin Ochan.
Micho, who will eventually trim the squad down to 23 for the final phase of preparations ahead of the continental tournament, has been particularly impressed with a handful of youthful players.
In-form striker Muhammad Shaban, Derrick Nsibambi, Muzamir Mutyaba, Keziron Kizito, Rashid Toha, Vitalis Tabu and Paul Mucurezi are some of the players that will be looking to make an impression for a place on the final squad.
“We have selected a blend of experienced players and youngsters that are the future of Ugandan football where nobody will not be gifted and awarded a place as from now on the counter is on zero and all 40 players are in a healthy competition to earn and deserve a place in the top 23,” explained Micho.
Household names like captain Geoffrey Massa, Tonny Mawejje andHassan Wasswa are obvious inclusions while the shining light of Farouk Miya and fellow attackers William Luwagga Kizito and Moses Oloya will yet again be expected to be on display.
Midfielder Mike Azira, who was brilliant when introduced as a second half substitute against Congo earlier this month in the Fifa 2018 World Cup qualifier, will be seeking to be embroidered into the heartbeat of the Cranes outfit come January in Gabon.
In the first phase, Micho summoned 25 locally based and available foreign-based players whom he took through drills last Wednesday and Thursdaybefore playing three matches against local sides including The Saints, Bright Stars and Vipers.
Notably, Micho has left out the striking trio of Emmanuel Okwi, Hamis Kiiza and Davis Kasirye, who were earlier this year involved with the Cranes.
Uganda is in Group D along with the Afcon 2015 finalists Ghana, seven-time record champions Egypt as well as Mali.
The Cranes open their campaign against Ghana on January 17 at Stade de Port Gentil before facing the Pharaohs four days later at the same venue. Uganda will then take on Mali at Stade d’Oyem on January 25.
Cranes provisional squad
Goalkeepers:Dennis Onyango, Robert Odongkara, Salim Jamal, Ismail Watenga, Benjamin Ochan
Defenders: Denis Iguma, Joseph Nsubuga, Nicholas Wadada, Joseph Ochaya, Shafiq Batambuze, Isaac Isinde, Murushid Juuko, Ronald Mukiibi, Timothy Awanyi, Richard Kasagga, Khalid Lwaliwa, Rashid Toha
Midfielders: Khalid Aucho, Tonny Mawejje, Hassan Wasswa, Mike Azira, Geoffrey Kizito, Keziron Kizito, Muzamir Mutyaba, Yasser Mugerwa, Sadam Juma, Moses Oloya, William Kizito Luwagga, Godfrey Walusimbi, Paul Mucurezi, Martin Kiiza, Vitalis Tabu
Strikers: Farouk Miya, Geoffrey Massa, Geoffrey Sserunkuma, Mohamed Shaban, Yunus Sentamu, Derrick Nsibambi, Edrisa Lubega, Erisa Sekisambu