By Fred Kaweesi
Africa Nations Championship
Today, 6pm, On SS4
Zimbabwe v Morocco
Today, 9pm, On SS4
Uganda v Burkina Faso
WHEN Denis Iguma turned out for the Kampala Kids League (KKL) team in the Tivoli and Gothia Cup competitions in 2005, he was delighted. He was pleased to have inspired the side to two international titles.
But like any football-mad youngster, his biggest dream was representing his country at senior level.
He had watched the likes of Ibrahim Sekagya perform at the highest level with distinction for the national team and wanted to be like him.
Of course, the Victoria University star has started a few games for the Cranes in the last year or two, but not with the kind of responsibilities that were bestowed upon him last month.
Last December, Iguma was appointed Cranes captain for the Africa Nations Championships (CHAN) and that came with the duty of leading the country to reasonable success —the kind of success that he achieved as a kid with KKL.
And that will begin with the fixture against Burkina Faso today at the Athlone Stadium.
“I believe the squad is good enough to compete and even go up to the quarter or semi-finals if we believe in ourselves. Once we work together as a team we shall win games and surprise many.”
“I know many players are looking at individual performances to get new elite clubs out there, but I have told them to prioritize the country first.”
“Our group is a bit tricky but we can go past it,” he added. Iguma does not only offer defensive cover at the heart of defence and right-back, he also adjusts and fits well into holding midfield where he is expected to start alongside Hassan Wasswa.
Although he is not a natural midfielder, Iguma will be tasked with the responsibilities of breaking up the opposition’s attacks, engineering play and forcing Burkina Faso’s midfield into their own half.
Ugandans will only hope that the current group does not emulate their counterparts of 2011.
Back then, Cranes did not only lose all three of their group matches, they also only managed to score one goal (2-1 against Gabon) in the entire championship hosted in Sudan.
Against Burkina Faso, Cranes’ togetherness, the desire to accept the ball in the tightest of situations, with colleagues always making space to help out, will be extremely fundamental.
Coach Micho Sredojevic plans to pat each of his players’ shoulders before the match, and where necessary offer words of encouragement.
The Serbian has shown his tactical prowess in previous games and will be challenged to pass his primary roles again —that is chose the right tactics, select the right players and make the right tactical adjustments where necessary.
“At this stage, the last thing I need to be concerned about is motivation. If there is a player here that isn’t, then they are in the wrong place. This is a great opportunity for each of them and I have not had to remind them of that,” Micho stated last week.