NAIROBI, Kenya, June 15 – Uganda Cranes head coach Milutin Sredojevic has urged Gor Mahia midfielder Khalid Aucho to follow in the footsteps of Harambee Stars skipper and Southampton FC midfielder Victor Wanyama as he closes on a move to Scottish Premier League side Rangers FC.
Speaking to Capital Sport from Kampala, Uganda, Sredojevic was full of praise for the midfielder who was named Kenya’s best footballer in the month of May by the Sports Journalists Association of Kenya in partnership with league sponsors SportPesa.
“Being named player of the month is a great step in the right direction and I congratulate him, his coach and his club for achieving that. However, it is a long road to go and Aucho is as good as his next game,” Sredojevic said.
“We appreciate KPL for giving Aucho a chance to grow as a player. I wish now he follows the footsteps of Kenyan great Victor Wanyama and reach heights that he has acquired,” The Uganda Cranes coach stated.
Aucho has been heavily linked with a move to Glasgow Rangers in Scotland and he might follow the footsteps of Wanyama whose breakthrough to English Premier League came from Scottish giants Celtic FC.
Aucho, who was part of the Uganda Cranes team that beat Botswana 2-1 away in a 2017 Africa Cup of Nation (AFCON) qualifier, has confirmed he has been approached by Rangers but are yet to finalise the deal.
“Yes, it is true and the progress at the moment is very good. I am just waiting their call, when everything is okay I will make the move.
This is a big thing because it is a chance to grow and progress in my career. I have to work harder even as I concentrate on my time here at Gor Mahia because I know where I am going is tougher,” Aucho said.
The midfielder signed by Gor at the end of the 2014 season from Tusker FC has been an integral figure in K’Ogalo’s squad and despite a slow start to the season hindered by injury, he began to pick up and ultimately put in a better performance in May to earn the reward.
Aucho has not only been important for Gor but the national team as well, where he scored the winner as the Cranes kept up their chances of qualifying to AFCON for the first time in 39 years.
The midfielder believes Cranes have the ability to break the more than three decades AFCON jinx and have a chance of making it into the 2017 edition as they sit second in Group D on 10 points, only separated from top side Burkina Faso on head to head record.
Heading into the final group matches on September 3, Uganda needs to win by a bigger margin against Comoros in Kampala and hope Burkina Faso at least draw or win by a smaller margin at home to Burkina Faso in Ouagadougou.
“I believe this time we can make it. We have a good team and everyone is hungry to achieve that dream. We have come very close and although we have been unlucky in the past, this is the time for us to qualify,” a confident Aucho affirmed.
His sentiments were echoed by Sredojevic who took over Cranes from former Harambee Stars head coach Bobby Williamson in 2013.
“We are playing crucial match against Comoros and if we win we shall qualify. With a cool head and without feeling any pressure we shall make it. With the support of 39 million Ugandans we will break a jinx of 39 long years since Uganda qualified to AFCON.”
Uganda came closer to qualify for AFCON in 2011, but their dreams were shattered by neighbours Kenya, who held them to a barren draw at the iconic Namboole Stadium in Kampala.
Ahead of the 2013 edition, Uganda suffered the same fate of falling at the last hurdle when they went down 11-10 on post match penalties to then defending champions Zambia after a 1-1 draw over both legs.
Leaders Burkina Faso will be at home to Botswana for the final qualifying round while Uganda play bottom side Comoros at the Namboole Stadium which has been the theatre of heartbreaks in the past.
But even if Uganda fails to achieve a better goal difference than Burkina Faso, they might progress by being among the best second placed teams if they pick three points against Comoros.