The National Under-17 coach, Hamza Lutalo, is in a confident mood after learning the Cubs’ group stage opponents for the 2021 Africa U-17 Cup of Nations.
The Cubs were last week drawn against hosts Morocco, 2013 winners Ivory Coast and Zambia in Group A.
But Lutalo, who oversaw the team’s qualification after winning the Cecafa U-17 title last December, is confident of progressing to the knockouts.
“The Cubs and Morocco played at the 2019 edition and both didn’t get out of the group stage. We expect to put up a good performance,” he said.
“There’s no clear favourite in underage competition. There’s also a level playing ground, which was different a few years ago, as when you are found with an overage player, the whole team is dismissed from the tournament.”
This is Uganda’s second appearance at the continental age tournament after the 2019 edition where they finished third in their group behind Angola and Nigeria.
The tournament has since been expanded to 12 teams from eight with the top two nations from each of the three groups progressing to the quarterfinals – joined by two of the best third-placed teams.
The Cubs are already in Morocco and open their account against the hosts on March 13 before playing Zambia three days later and wrapping up the group stages against Ivory Coast on March 19.
Lutalo named the majority of the players that featured in the qualifiers en route to winning the Cecafa title in Rwanda, including four players who will now miss their Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) examinations.
Towering midfielder Ivan Irinimbabazi of Royal Giant High School, Oscar Mawa – top scorer at the Cecafa fianls – a student at Gombe High, as well as St Mary’s Kitende duo Elvis Mwanje and Travis Mutyaba (Cecafa MVP) will all not sit the examinations that started yesterday.