On Saturday, Senkatuka came off the bench and earned Cranes a vital equaliser
Cranes friendly games
Uganda 1 Guinea 1
Uganda v Congo
Uganda Cranes CHAN fixtures (Group B)
Uganda v Zambia
Uganda v Namibia
Uganda v Ivory Coast
How times change! Four years ago, Nelson Senkatuka was offered an internship to train with the Cranes in the build-up to the 2014 Africa Nations Championship (CHAN).
The 20-year-old, turning out for Southern Counties East League Division One club Erith & Belvedere Football Club back then, was certainly ineligible for the championship designed for players based in domestic leagues.
But even if he was eligible, Senkatuka was not good enough for the national team. All he had was passion for the game and a dream to represent his country.
Years later, Senkatuka chose to abandon the comfort that came with playing in better facilities in the United Kingdom and worked so hard to improve certain qualities of his game with local clubs Proline and Bright Stars.
The rough diamond that could not even stand on the same pitch with the likes of Geoffrey Massa or Emmanuel Okwi, has steadily improved and could soon prove to be the finished article.
The team that played against Guinea
On Saturday, Senkatuka came off the bench and earned Cranes a vital equaliser in the 75th minute after Camara Saidouba had helped Guinea to the lead in the first of two friendly games ahead of the CHAN championship that starts on Saturday.
Senkatuka later tweeted: “I am delighted to have scored my first international goal for the Uganda Cranes in yesterday’s draw against Guinea. It is a special feeling. Hopefully, it is the first of many to come. (There is) a lot of work to do and areas in my game to improve on. (I will take it one step at a time.”
The goal must have alerted Cranes’ coach Sebastien Desabre of Senkatuka’s precious predatory instincts and in the process also left the Frenchman with some food-for-thought considering that the likes of Mohammad Shaban and Derrick Nsibambi are ahead of him on the back of the old scorecard.
But it is early days. Cranes battle Congo Brazzaville tomorrow in the final friendly that will offer opportunities to the rest.
Desabre’s preferred X1 against Guinea:
B.Ochan, N.Wadada, I.Muleme, T.Awanyi, B.Muwanga, T.Lwanga, M.Karisa (M.Shaban), M.Waiswa (R.Senfuka), D.Nsibambi (N.Senkatuka), S.Juma (M.Mutyaba), A.Kyambadde (A.Kasule)
Squad in Morocco:
Ochan Benjamin, Ismael Watenga and Saidi Keni
Nicholas Wadada, Joseph Nsubuga, Timothy Awany, Bernard Muwanga, Mustapha Mujjuzi, Aggrey Madoi, Isaac Muleme, Mustapha Kizza
Milton Karisa, Paul Mucurezi, Allan Kyambadde, Seif Batte, Rahmat Senfuka, Abubaker Kasule, Tadeo Lwanga, Moses Waisswa, Saddam Juma, Muzamil Mutyaba, Tom Masiko
Shaban Muhammad, Derrick Nsibambi, Nelson Senkatuka