NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 5- The Kenyan Premier League duo of Shafik Batambuze (Tusker) and Godfrey Walusimbi (Gor Mahia) have made the cut for Uganda’s team to the 2017 African Cup of Nations that kicks-off from January 14 in Gabon.
While Walusimbi has been a mainstay in the team, Batambuze is in line for his maiden competitive debut after impressing in the 2016 season with KPL and GOtv Shield champions Tusker FC.
“We started working on19th, had 19 training sessions in 10 working days providing perfect platform for polishing work in order to be competitors. On the wings of tough times in football are flying tough decisions as I’m squeezed between a hard rock and stone to decide 23 Uganda best for AFCON,” Uganda Cranes head coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic tweeted before he named the final squad.
He had earlier trimmed the squad to 26 for a training camp in Tunisia which ended on Wednesday with a 2-0 loss to the hosts in a friendly match.
Dropped from the squad is goalkeeper Benjamin Ochan and midfielder Muzamiru Mutyaba, both of Kampala City Council as well as Proline’s Edrisa Lubega.
Other former KPL players making the final list of 23 include midfielders Khalid Aucho and Geoffrey ‘Baba’ Kizito, both formerly of Gor Mahia.
The Cranes, making their first appearance at the AFCON in 39 years are placed in a tough Group D alongside Ghana, Egypt and Mali. They start their campaign on January 17 against Mali at the Stade de Port-Gentil in Port-Gentil.
After Tunisia, Uganda will head to Dubai for another training camp before heading to Gabon.
Uganda Cranes Final 23 man squad:
Goalkeepers: Salim Jamal (Al Merrikh, Sudan), Robert Odongkara (Saint George, Ethiopia), Denis Onyango (Mamelodi Sundowns, South Africa)
Defenders: Timothy Dennis Awany (KCCA, Uganda), Joseph Ochaya (KCCA), Shafiq Batambuze (Tusker, Kenya), Denis Iguma (Al Ahed, Lebanon), Isaac Isinde (Unattached), Murushid Juuko (Simba, Tanzania), Nicholas Wadada (Vipers, Uganda)
Midfielders: Khalid Aucho (Baroka, South Africa), Mike Azira (Colorado Rapids, USA), Geoffrey Kizito (Than Quang Ninh, Vietnam), William Luwagga Kizito (Rio Ave, Portugal), Tony Mawejje (Thotur, Iceland), Hassan Wasswa (Nijmeh, Lebabon), Moses Oloya (Hanoi T and T, Vietnam), Godfrey Walusimbi (Gor Mahia, Kenya)
Strikers: Geoffrey Massa (Baroka, South Africa), Faruku Miya (Standard Liege, Belgium), Yunus Sentamu (Ilves, Finland), Geoffrey Sserunkuma (KCCA, Uganda), Muhammed Shaban (Onduparaka, Uganda)