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Cranes, Stars friendly possible, says Desabre

Uganda Cranes head coach Sebastien Desabre (right) chats with his Harambee Stars counterpart Sebastien Migne during the Mashemeji Derby at the Kasarani Stadium on February 9, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 11 – Uganda Cranes head coach Sebastien Desabre has opened up to the possibility of friendly matches between his men and Kenya’s Harambee Stars in preparation for June’s African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Egypt.

Desabre was in the country over the weekend for the Mashemeji Derby on the invitation of his fellow Frenchman, Kenya’s Sebastien Migne and with both having qualified for the Cup of Nations, he says it would be great to size up against each other.

“Maybe yes, it is a possibility. If we can play together to prepare it will be very good for both of us because Kenya has a good team and we also have a good team,” Desabre told Capital Sport.

“But first we must await the draw. Maybe we are in the same group,” the Uganda Cranes boss further joked.

Kenya was assured of a place in the Cup of Nations for the first time in a decade and a half following Sierra Leone’s expulsion from the qualifiers while the Cranes currently lead their group with a match to spare.

“It is great that both of us are going to Egypt and I am happy for him (Migne) and Kenya fans because they deserve this. He is a great and very professional coach and I wish him all the best. Maybe we (Kenya and Uganda) are not the favorites to go and win but we will go there and do our best,” he asserted.

There is a possibility of the three East Africa Nations, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania all qualifying for the Egypt showpiece. But, Tanzania’s qualification heavily depends on a win against Uganda at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam.

Uganda Cranes head coach Sebastien Desabre chats with Erisa Ssekisambu and Shafik Batambuze alongside Gor Mahia head coach Hassan Oktay after the Mashemeji Derby at the Kasarani Stadium on February 9, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Uganda is the only team assured of a qualification slot from Group L as they have not lost any of their five games. Lesotho (2), Tanzania (3) and Cape Verde (4) all have a chance of qualification.

If Tanzania beats Uganda in Dar and Lesotho drops points against Cape Verde, then the Taifa Stars will complete the East African trinity to Egypt. But Desabre says he is not about to do anyone favors.

“We have qualified but the match against Tanzania will be important for us. We want to finish the qualification without conceding a goal,” the Frenchman stated.

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Meanwhile, the tactician has said there is a place in his team for Gor Mahia left back Shafik Batambuze, bit has urged the former Tusker FC man to continue working hard as the position is highly competitive.

Desabre watched Batambuze put up a solid 90 minutes during the derby and also had a few glances at Erisa Ssekisambu who came on as a second half substitute. AFC’s Baker Lukooya didn’t have a chance to audition in front of the tactician as he was an unused sub.

Uganda Cranes head coach Sebastien Desabre with Erisa Ssekisambu and Shafik Batambuze after the Mashemeji Derby at the Kasarani Stadium on February 9, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

“He did a very good game today and I am very happy for the boy. But, in this position we have up to four players; there’s Walusimbi (Godfrey), Ochaya Joseph) who is playing in TP Mazembe and Muleme (Isaac) in Egypt. But, it is a possibility and that is why I am here today,” Desabre said.

He added; “I follow many players and that is my job. I am from Europe where I looked at some players. We have 50 players we are following up for the AFCON,” he added.

Looking back at the derby, Desabre said he was impressed by Gor Mahia’s display and they were deserved winners over their arch rivals.

“At the end of the game 2-0 was a correct result for the game. Leopards had two chances, but I think Gor Mahia controlled the ball well with good organization in their 4-4-2 style,” the Frenchman added.

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