By Pius Arinawe
UGANDA has been handed a tough group for the 3rd edition Orange Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) after the draw which was held on Wednesday at the CAF Headquarters in Cairo, Egypt.
The draw that was conducted by CAF Secretary General, Hicham El Amrani placed Uganda in Group B alongside Morocco, Zimbabwe and Burkina Faso.
In light of a poor record against North African teams, Cranes would have been forgiven for dreading the prospect of facing any of Libya or Morocco but fate placed them alongside the latter.
There is scant consolation for Uganda afterall the last time these two met back in 2011, Cranes defeated the North African giants 1-0 in the LG Cup. Morocco is currently ranked 74th in the world and 16th on the continent, 7 and 3 places ahead of Uganda respectively.
Rapidly improving Burkina Faso who will be making their first ever appearance at the biennial tournament for home-grown players will have to field a new look team compared to that which finished as runners-up at the 2013 African Cup of Nations.
All of the 23 players were picked from all over Europe and this will probably give Micho and his team a glimmer of hope against a team ranked 51st in the world and 9th on the continent.
Zimbabwe who are making their 3rd straight appearance at the tournament, a joint record held with neighbours DRC and Ghana, have failed to make it out of the group stages in previous editions. Uganda’s record isn’t any better having failed to avoid defeat in all its games. Uganda will open up its campaign against Burkina Faso.
Hosts South Africa were drawn in Group A, arguably the ‘group of death’, alongside Mozambique, defending African champions Nigeria and giants Mali.
Group C has runners up of the inaugural edition in 2009, Ghana, Congo-Brazzaville, Ethiopia and Libya.
DR Congo, the first winners of the tournament are placed in Group D alongside Mauritania, Burundi and Gabon.
All the qualified teams with the exception of hosts South Africa, were ranked based on their performances during the last two editions of the CHAN competition in 2009 (Cote d'Ivoire) and 2011 (Sudan) and took into account zonal considerations.
The four seeded teams were South Africa, DR Congo, Ghana and Zimbabwe. Pot 2 was made up of Gabon, Mali, Libya and Uganda with Burkina Faso, Burundi, Ethiopia and Nigeria in Pot 3 whereas Congo, Mauritania, Morocco and Mozambique made up Pot 4.
The ceremony was graced by CAF President Issa Hayatou and members of the CAF Executive Committee and Chairman of the Organising Committee, Almamy Kabele. Also in attendance was Chief Mwelo Nonkonyana, Board Chairman of the Local Organising Committee and Board members, Mvuzo Mbebe, Chief Executive Officer of the LOC and Kirsten Nematandani, President of South Africa Football Association (SAFA).
The championship will kick off on 11th January when hosts South Africa take on Mozambique, and end on 1st February with Cape Town, Mangaung and Polokwane as the host cities.
GROUP A (Cape Town Stadium)
GROUP B (Athlone Stadium)
GROUP C (Mangaung Stadium)
GROUP D (Peter Mokaba Stadium)