WHILE the Zambia national soccer team has limited its preparations to an in-house training programme ahead of the 2016 Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) tournament so far, its opponents have hit top gear with Uganda expected to play friendlies with Cameroon and Gabon in about a fortnight’s time.
The Cranes will face fellow 2016 CHAN-bound Gabon on 10th January before rounding off their preparations with another test match against dreaded Indomitable Lions of Cameroon three days later with both matches expected to be held at the FUFA Technical Centre in Njeru.
Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) spokesman Ahmed Hussein has confirmed the two friendly matches.
Hussein said the two friendlies would be beneficial to the team before they travel to Rwanda for the CHAN tournament.
He also said the federation was not only concerned with the Rwanda tournament, but that the two high-profile friendlies were part of its strategic and technical plans for the 2019 Cameroon Project.
“We confirm the latest development which will be beneficial to the Uganda Cranes as we prepare for the CHAN finals. The training camp for Uganda Cranes will be held at the FUFA Technical Centre, Njeru. The international friendlies are in line with FUFA’s strategic and technical plans for the Cameroon Project 2019,” Hussein said.
And Uganda coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic said the two friendlies presented an opportunity for him and the players to assess their strength by playing two strong teams before they travel to Rwanda.
Sredojevic said the two friendlies were Uganda’s litmus test ahead of the tournament as they will give the team time to rectify the lapses that will be exposed during the two matches which are only three days apart.
“It is a great opportunity for me and the Uganda Cranes to play against good teams ahead of the CHAN finals. They will give us a good test,” Sredojevic said.
The two West African teams will camp in Uganda prior to heading to Rwanda for the CHAN tournament.
The CHAN tournament in Rwanda runs from January 16 to February 7. Uganda is pitted against Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mali in Group D at the tournament.
The Chipolopolo have successively failed to qualify for the last two editions of continental competition exclusively for domestic league-based players since finishing third at the inaugural finals held in Cote d’Ivoire in 2009.