Basena: Uganda to use CECAFA Cup as CHAN dress rehearsal
Uganda interim coach Moses Basena has told KweséESPN that the Cranes are planning to use the upcoming CECAFA Cup in Kenya as a dress rehearsal for next month's Africa Nations Championship.
The regional defending champions travelled 285km by road on Saturday morning to the town of Kakamega in Kenya ahead of the tournament kickoff, with the East Africans set to begin their campaign against Burundi on Monday.
While Basena is keen to retain the trophy, he's acknowledged that Uganda's key objective this month is to prepare players for the CHAN in Morocco, and to improve the team blend.
"We have some new players in the squad and this tournament will help them gel better with the other players as we prepare for a bigger mission in Morocco," Basena told KweséESPN, "but it will also be nice to win our 15th CECAFA CUP if we retain the title."
Uganda failed to escape from the group stage at the 2012, 2014 and 2016 editions of the CHAN, and are determined to progress this time around, with Basena believing that improved preparation will help them go deeper in the competition.
The Cranes' preparations for the CECAFA Cup have also been less than ideal, with the East Africans initially set to play Zimbabwe in their opener before the latter's withdrawal, citing the political situation in Kenya following recent elections.
Basena is without experienced Tanzania-based defender Murushid Juuko for the tournament, after opting not to take the Simba SC man due to his ineligibility for the CHAN.
"It was more tactical to leave Juuko out eventually as he cannot qualify for the CHAN team," the coach continued. "We are focusing on preparing a team for that event."
Experienced defender Nicholas Wadada has made the squad, and is determined to retain the title, and he'll be joined in the squad by in-form Proline FC youngster Daniel Isiagi, who returned a week ago from professional trials with Nantes, and KCCA FC's enterprising Allan Kateregga.
The latter has four goals in the Ugandan top flight this season, and could be a key man both at the CECAFA and the CHAN.