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Batambuze eyes AFCON slot after maiden Cranes call

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Tusker FC left back Shafik Batambuze in action for the club in a past match. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu
Tusker FC left back Shafik Batambuze in action for the club in a past match. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 2 – After an impressive season with GOtv Shield champions and Kenyan Premier League leaders Tusker FC, left back Shafik Batambuze has earned his maiden call up to the Uganda Cranes national team ahead of the next international week.

Batambuze is among the 19-foreign based players called up by head coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic, with the list also including Gor Mahia’s Godfrey Walusimbi who has been a consistent figure in the Cranes team over the last five years.

“I feel great to have finally earned this call up after working very hard throughout the season. It has been my dream to play for the national team and now my hope is that this opens up a door to a permanent stay,” Batambuze said, shortly after receiving news he will be in coach Micho’s plans.

He adds; “I would love to go to AFCON, but again that depends with the coach and the plans he has. I will go to training, work hard and if given a chance to play, I will prove my worth,” the former Western Stima and Sofapaka man noted.

Speaking to Capital Sport, Cranes coach ‘Micho’ says the left back totally deserves a chance to play for the Cranes and challenged him to prove his mettle.

“He totally deserves it. I have been following him up this year and I must say he is a talented lad. He will be compared to others and he stands a chance to be in the team. The ball is in his court to prove that he has what it takes,” the Serbian tactician offered.

Batambuze who has been key in Tusker’s run this term after joining from Western Stima in January will fight out for a place against Joseph Ochaya who plays for Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) and Gor’s Walusimbi for a starting role on the left of Cranes’ defense.

Batambuze though has the ability to play as a left midfielder.

Shafik Batambuze vies for an aerial ball with Ulinzi Stars' Enosh Ochieng during the GOtv Shield final on October 20, 2016 in Nairobi. PHOTO/Chris Omollo
Shafik Batambuze vies for an aerial ball with Ulinzi Stars’ Enosh Ochieng during the GOtv Shield final on October 20, 2016 in Nairobi. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Cranes will play against Zambia in an international friendly match at the Nelson Mandela Stadium on November 8 before facing Congo Brazzaville four days later at the same venue in a 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier.

Meanwhile, Micho has wished Nkata, his former assistant at Sports Club Villa all the best as he guns for a maiden league title as head coach with Tusker FC.

The Serbian has described Nkata as a great gentleman of the game and says he totally deserves to win a double in Kenya, having worked hard to rise through the ranks from his native Uganda.

Nkata’s first job in Kenya was at Nairobi City Stars, then left for Muhoroni Youth where he led them to their highest ever Premier League finish before the money bags at Ruaraka lured him back to the City.

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