Friday, January 13
*Algeria 1-0 Libya
Saturday, January 14
*Ethiopia Vs Mozambique – 4pm
*D.R. Congo Vs Uganda – 7pm
*Ivory Coast Vs Senegal – 10pm
Group A (Algiers): Algeria, Libya, Ethiopia, Mozambique
Group B (Annaba): DR Congo, Uganda, Côte D’Ivoire, Senegal
Group C (Constantine): Sudan, Madagascar, Ghana, Morocco*
Group D (Oran): Mali, Angola, Mauritania
Group E (Oran): Cameroon, Congo, Niger
Uganda Cranes will be seeking for a positive start when they take on DR Congo in their opening Group B game of the ongoing African Nations Championship (CHAN) at the Stadium 19th May 1956 in the Algerian City of Annaba.
Both sides are taking part in their sixth CHAN tournament but the Cranes who missed the inaugural edition won by DR Congo in Ivory Coast, have never gone past the groups.
Two of those five tournaments have been under Serbian coach Milutin Micho Sredejovich – In 2014 South Africa and 2016 Rwanda.
“On the previous occasions we have been unlucky or lacked something but this time around we want to do everything to pass the group stages,” Micho said ahead of the opener.
“We respect DR Congo and the other opponents but this is our objective. We will give everything to attain this beginning on Saturday.”
Uganda will bank on the fact that they beat DR Congo 2-0 in AFCON 2019 held in Egypt, then still under the Serbian gaffer.
But Micho said that CHAN and AFCON “is a totally different game” adding that the match in 2019 is past.”
“We have a new generation of players. CHAN is usually a representation of the performance of our clubs in the interclub competitions. We know Mazembe, Lupopo, Vita Club are doing well but we have our qualities and believe small details decide this.”
It’s strong to add that Micho guided Zambia out of the CHAN groups, overcoming Group D that had Guinea, Tanzania and Namibia before falling 3-1 to Morocco.
Uganda had ample preparations in the lead up to the tournament.
After weeks of training in Kampala, the team had a camp in Tunisia where they played three friendlies against Sudan (2-2), Cameroon (1-1) and Mali (0-0).
Eight of the 23 Uganda Cranes players have been at this stage before, including Captain Milton Karisa who is at his 3rd CHAN after 2018 and 2020, and there is some confidence that the Cranes may finally break the knockout jinx.
Moses Waiswa and Nelson Senkatuka were in the 2018 and 2020 tourneys while Bright Anukani, Karim Watambala, Joel Mutakubwa, Nafian Alionzi and Ibrahim Orit were part of the Cranes squad that featured in 2020 Cameroon.
Check out – Betting in Uganda
Dr Congo – An African Powerhouse
DR Congo are not just favourites to beat Uganda Cranes but are also among the teams expected to go all the way!
That is well founded as the side is a two-time CHAN champion having lifted the trophy in 2009 and 2016.
They have been at all CHAN editions beside the 2018 tourney in Morocco when they failed to qualify after losing to neighbours Congo on away goals rule.
In the last edition, DR Congo were stopped at the Quarterfinals after a 2-1 defeat against hosts Cameroon in Douala.
The Coach of DR Congo Otis Ngoma said prior to the game: “We played just two friendly games, but it permitted us to see all the players and know to count on and which substitutions we can bring in the course of the game. So we will try to capitalize on that on Saturday.
“We have all our chances just like the others. It is a derby, for those who don’t know, these are two neighbouring countries, with lots of similarities in terms of history and diplomatic relations. So we will play for the Congolese people.”
In their two friendlies, DR Congo beat Libya 3-1 and lost 1-0 to Mali.
Senegal and Ivory Coast later face off in the other Group B game, in a competition that is exclusive to only home-based players.
Uganda – Nafian Alionzi, Ashraf Mandela, Derrick Ndahiro, Geoffrey Wasswa, Hillary Mukundane, Marvin Youngman, Karim Watambala, Moses Waiswa, Frank Sebuufu, Ibrahim Orit, Milton Karisa
DR Congo – Herve Lomboto, Djos Issama, Ernest Luzolo, Issaka Boka, Magema Mfingi, Zemanga Soze, Peter Matumosi, Miche Mika, Wamba Kikasa, Beni Kinzumbi, Eric Kabwe
How To Watch – In Uganda, local channels like UBC and Sanyuka Prime will broadcast the match live. DStv, Gotv (Variety 4) and StarTimes (World Football) have the game as well.