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Football

Can Uganda Crested Cranes fly well at the WAFCON?

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Uganda's Crested Cranes line up before a past match. PHOTO/FUFA
  • Uganda have qualified for the Cup of Nations for the first time in 22 years
  • They qualified after Kenya’s withdrawal following FIFA suspension
  • The Crested Cranes have already travelled to Morocco

The Uganda Crested Cranes qualified to the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) after Kenya failed to play their second round qualification match due to a current FIFA suspension. Their qualification was the first since 200 when they earned a spot for the very first time.

In the first round of the qualifiers, the Crested Cranes had seen off a tough Ethiopian side on penalties after a 2-2 aggregate draw. They had won the first leg in Kampala 2-0 before Ethiopia replicated the same result in Addis Ababa in the return fixture.

And now, their ambitions are pegged on a good performance at the final tournament in Morocco, where they have been drawn in Group A against the hosts, Burkina Faso and Senegal.

Brief history in women’s football

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Uganda’s Crested Cranes celebrate a goal in a past match. PHOTO/FUFA

Uganda played its first FIFA recognized international match in 1994 in Kenya. In 1998, they had their first bid to qualify for the Cup of Nations in 1998 but lost 2-1 on aggregate to Egypt.

Two years later, they qualified for their first ever Women’s Cup of Nations after being handed a walkover against DR Congo who withdrew. They finished third in the pool after winning once, drawing once and losing once.

They have failed to qualify for the Cup of Nations since, until this year when they earned a ticket courtesy of Kenya’s absence.

The team is coaches by William Lutalo. He replaced Faridah Bulega as the Crested Cranes head coach in 2021 and under his tutelage, the team made a return to the Cup of Nations for the first time in 22 years.

The tactician has handled several men’s teams in the Uganda Premier League including URA FC, Soana FC, JMC FC and Onduparaka FC.

Just before the Cup of Nations, he also led the team to the CECAFA Women’s Championship title on home soil in early June.

Players to watch:

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Uganda’s Crested Cranes celebrate after winning the 2022 CECAFA Women’s Challenge. PHOTO/FUFA

Fazila Ikwaput:

The striker was the top scorer in the 2021/2022 Uganda Women’s Premier League. She was also Uganda’s top scorer when they lifted the 2022 CECAFA Senior Women’s Championship after netting six times in their title winning run.

Hasifah Nassuna:

The attacking midfielder is the only player to score 100 goals in the Uganda Women’s Premier League. She is a very talented player with good leadership qualities. She also captained Uganda to win the CECAFA Senior Women’s Championship 2022.

Ruth Aturo:

The confident goalkeeper who plies her trade in Finland with Katkan Tyovaen Palloillija FC has been Uganda’s first choice goalkeeper since 2016.

She has been a key figure in the Uganda Crested Cranes set up and in 2018, she won two awards as goalkeeper of the tournament awards both CECAFA and COSAFA where Uganda finished second and third respectively.

WAFCON squad

Goalkeepers: Ruth Aturo (Katkan Tyovaen Palloillija FC, Finland), Vanessa Edith Karungi (B93, Denmark), Daisy Nakaziro(Uganda Martyrs H/S Lubaga, Uganda)

Defenders: Asia Nakibuuka (Kawempe Muslim LFC, Uganda), Sumaya Komuntale (Tooro Queens FC,Uganda), Yudaya Nakayenze (Lindey Wilson College, USA), Aisha Nantongo (Kawempe Muslim LFC, Uganda), Margret Namirimu (She Corporate FC, Uganda), Bira Nadunga (Olila High School, WFC, Uganda), Lukia Namubiru (Kampala Queens FC, Uganda)

Midfielders: Hasifah Nassuna (UCU Lady Cardinals FC,Uganda), Joan Nabirye (Vihiga Queens, Kenya), Phionah Nabbumba(She Corporate FC, Uganda), Riticia Nabbosa (Lady Doves FC, Uganda), Shamirah Nalugya (Kampala Queens, Uganda), Sheeba Zalwango (FC Amani, DR Congo), Tracy Jones Akiror (AFC Ann Arbor)

Forwards: Viola Nambi (FC Dornbirn Ladies, Austria), Sandra Nabweteme (Unattached), Fazila Ikwaput (Lady Doves FC, Uganda), Ritah Kivumbi (Mallbackens IF, Sweden), Fauzia Najjemba (BIIK Shymkent, Kazakhstan), Joanita Ainembabazi (Rines SS WFC, Uganda), Lillian Mutuuzo (Kampala Queens FC, Uganda), Margret Kunihira (Kampala Queens, Uganda), Zaina Nandede (Kampala Queens, Uganda)

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