The 7th edition of the African Nations Championship (CHAN) will be held from January 13 to February 4, 2023, in Algeria. The opening match features the host country, Algeria and the Libyan selection, on January 13, 2023, at 5 pm, at the Baraki stadium; with a capacity of 40,784 covered places, located southeast of Algiers.
The African Nations Championship translated in French as Championnat d'Afrique des Nations abbreviated as CHAN, is a biennial African national association football tournament organized by the Confederation of African Football (CAF). The CHAN tournament was first announced on September 11 2007 and the participating nations must have players playing in their national league competitions.
Eighteen countries qualified for the 7th edition of CHAN, and they include: Angola, Congo, Mali, Ghana, Ethiopia, Niger, Uganda, Senegal, Mauritania, Madagascar, Sudan, Libya, Mozambique, DR Congo, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, the host Algeria and the two-time champions Morocco.
Five Times Unlucky
The Uganda Cranes have failed to go past the group stages during the five times they have played in the tournament that started in 2007, but will they succeed to aim higher than that during the 2023 edition in Algeria? Uganda has qualified for every edition of the TotalEnergies African Nations Championship (CHAN) apart from the inaugural edition in 2009.
Uganda cranes CHAN squad that started the buildup friendly match with Mali. Source: FUFA
Uganda is in Group B together with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Senegal, and Ivory Coast. The Cranes’ opening match will be against DRC on January 14th, 2023 at 7:00 PM.
As they prepare to play in the tournament for the sixth time in Algeria, the cranes have only one mission in mind: to ink their best-ever performance in the tournament. The Cranes have been a force to reckon with in regional football in the CECAFA Zone, but they have not quite translated that to the Continent.
Uganda Cranes tussles it out against Cameroon in CHAN buildup friendly match. Source: FUFA
After 10 days in the training camp in Kampala, the Cranes put in another 10 in Tunisia, where they played three friendly matches against fellow CHAN-bound Sudan, Cameroon, and Mali. What is worrying is that the Cranes played and drew all their three friendly matches in Tunisia against Sudan (2-2), Cameroon (1-1), and Mali (0-0). Are we well prepared for the tournament?
The Uganda Cranes are now camped in the Mediterranean port city of Annaba for their group matches. Annaba is located in north-eastern side of Algeria, near the mouth of the Wadi Seybouse and close to the Tunisian border, which explains the choice of the pre-tournament Cranes camp.
Are the Cranes Ready for the Task Ahead?
Even though Uganda has managed to successfully qualify for CHAN five times in a row, it has never been through the group stages and in the 7th edition, it is in a rather intimidating group that comprises the Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, and Ivory Coast.
Cranes coach Milutin Sredojevic, commonly known as Micho was in charge of Uganda in two of the five occasions in South Africa in 2014 and Rwanda in 2016. There is hope the country will stay in Algeria a little longer. Progressing from the group for the first time ever will give the Serbian coach a sigh of relief and confidence amid growing criticism ahead of the Afcon 2024 qualification that will resume in March.
Cranes coach Milutin ‘Mich’ Sredojevic. Source: CAF Online
DRC, Senegal, and Ivory Coast will certainly make it an even more challenging task, but Uganda must stand up to be worthy of progression. Senegal is currently ranked number one in Africa by the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) and 18th globally, Ivory coast is ranked 9th in Africa, and DRC is 13th. Uganda lags behind in the group as it is ranked 17th in Africa.
If the Cranes’ defense turns up the way they have done previously by conceding four at the tournament, the attack will then have to show up more than the three times they scored at each of the last editions. Micho is known for mainly being technical in defensive games, but judging by the results from the three friendlies held in Tunisia ahead of the tournament, he will need to tighten the back four.
From the time of the previous famous strikers like Majid Musisi, Jackson Mayanja, and Andrew ‘Fimbo’ Mukasa, Uganda Cranes has not stood out as an intimidating team in front of the goal. The midfield and defense will have an enormous task of minimizing leaks and protecting the backline while supplying the strikers upfront. Ball possession and passing will be key in the quest for goals and steering out of the group stages.
Among Group B members, only Uganda has never qualified from the group stage out of the five times that we have been at the tournament. The Democratic Republic of Congo has previously emerged twice as the winner in 2009 and 2016. Ivory Coast finished third in 2016 and Senegal finished fourth in 2009.
With Uganda’s sixth consecutive qualification for CHAN, it is time we got boots on the ground and balls in the opponent’s goal nets to make it count. Given the unsatisfactory statistics from the last editions of the championship, Coach Micho and his players must take on the uphill task and defy the odds to at least reach the knockout stage for the championship.
Uganda's Group B fixtures
Jan 14: DRC vs. Uganda, 7pm
Jan 18: Senegal vs. Uganda, 10pm
Jan 22: Uganda vs. Ivory Coast, 10pm
Uganda Cranes final 23
Nafian Alionzi (URA FC), Joel Mutakubwa (Gaddafi FC), Jack Komakech (Vipers SC)
Ashiraf Mandela (Vipers SC), James Begisa (URA FC), Derrick Ndahiro (URA FC), Isa Mubiru (Vipers SC), Hillary Mukundane (Vipers SC), Kenneth Semakula(SC Villa), Geofrey Wasswa (KCCA FC), Gift Fred (SC Villa)
Marvin Youngman (Vipers SC), Abdu Karim Watambala(Vipers SC), Moses Waiswa (KCCA FC)
Milton Karisa (Vipers SC), Ibrahim Orit (Vipers SC), Travis Mutyaba (SC Villa), Moses Aliro (Wakiso Giants FC), Rogers Kassim Mato (KCCA FC), Bright Anukani (Vipers SC), Titus Ssematimba (Wakiso Giants), Frank Ssebufu (Wakiso Giants FC), Nelson Senkatuka (Soltilo Bright Stars FC)