Entering a year which ends in odd-numbered digits can only mean one thing for African football fans: the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) is almost upon us once more. After narrowly missing out on qualification for the 2021 edition by two points, Uganda will be desperate to right that wrong this time round – as will the legions of supporters who get behind the team each game.
Indeed, many of those fans like to back the Cranes by putting their money where their mouth is and laying a wager on Ugandan success, too. But is that a good bet this year? Before you visit Sportybet Uganda to place a flutter on the outcome of their campaign, why not read through our handy guide first? We analyze all the factors to give our verdict on whether or not the Cranes will be flying west to Cote d’Ivoire early next year.
First and foremost, it’s worthwhile taking a look at the competition. Fortunately, Uganda have enjoyed a relatively kind draw, coming out of the hat alongside Senegal, Niger and neighboring Tanzania. Ranked 19th in the world by FIFA, Senegal are fresh from their exploits at the World Cup in Qatar and could be too strong for the Cranes. However, Uganda should certainly fancy their chances against both Niger and Tanzania, both of whom are ranked below them in the global rankings (122nd and 130th, respectively, to Uganda’s 89th placing).
That cause of optimism is only enhanced when you take into account Uganda’s previous record against their opponents. They’ve played neighbors Tanzania many times in recent years and although they were beaten 1-0 in the most recent friendly encounter in September last year, they triumphed over the Taifa Stars in both legs of their African Nations Championship earlier in 2022. Indeed, the Cranes can be supremely encouraged by their surprise victory over Senegal in the ANC proper, even if they were desperately unlucky to crash out at the group stage despite that famous victory.
In terms of players, Uganda are blessed with a cohesive squad who have played together for some time – they have the ability to field a full XI with at least 20 caps for each player. What’s more, their two biggest goalscoring threats Farouk Miya (of Caykur Rizespor in Turkey) and Emmanuel Okwi (of Al-Zawraa in Iraq) both have enviable records of a goal every three games for their country and are now entering the prime of their careers. As such, Uganda should be hopeful that their players can perform on the biggest stage when it’s most important.
If all of those signs appear to be positive, there is one fly in the ointment… and it’s unfortunately a sizable one. According to the governing body for African football, Uganda does not boast a stadium which meets their requirements for hosting qualifiers of this magnitude. As a result, the Cranes are effectively being forced to cede home advantage throughout the qualifying campaign. It was recently announced that a stadium in Egypt will host their game against Tanzania, though it’s still unclear exactly where the match will take place.
Deprived of home support for the qualifying campaign, the Ugandan national team certainly faces a challenge to qualify for AFCON 2023. However, with the players at their disposal and the teams they’ll face, it’s one they should be bullish about overcoming.