The omens finally appear to be falling in place for Uganda after years of qualifying heartbreak
Nations Cup 2019
Uganda, Cape Verde, Tanzania, Lesotho
Nations Cup 2017
Gabon v Guinea Bissau
Burkina Faso v Cameroon
Algeria v Zimbabwe
Tunisia v Senegal
Uganda should be in position to make her second consecutive appearance at the 2019 Nations Cup finals.
All that Cranes need to do is dispatch an unpredictable Cape Verde and register possible wins against lightweights Tanzania and Lesotho in Group L to secure a place at the finals in Cameroon.
The omens finally appear to be falling in place for Uganda after years of qualifying heartbreak, years in which Cranes were constantly drawn against heavyweights from North and West Africa.
But just like the previous qualifying campaign when Cranes drew fading Burkina Faso, and hapless outfits Botswana and Comoros, Uganda finds herself with feeble opposition to contend with considering the other 12 groups.
For starters, Uganda, 73, is the best-placed footballing country at the FIFA World rankings, of all the four teams in Group L.
Cape Verde follows in 79th place while Lesotho and East Africa neighbours Tanzania languish in 142 and 156 positions respectively.
Uganda has also played all three countries in previous qualifiers and come off with fairly decent results.
During the 2006 World/Nations Cup qualifiers, Uganda lost and won the return of their two fixtures against Cape Verde.
The Cranes have however thumped Tanzania in recent Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifiers.
During 2007 Nations Cup qualifiers, Uganda beat Lesotho 3-0 before playing out to a goalless draw in the return leg in Maseru.
All said, Cranes, will only start thinking of the forthcoming campaign after dealing with the ongoing finals in Gabon.
Following a string of conflicting results that saw Uganda win two and lose two of their four build-up games, Cranes coach Micho Sredojevic will spend the next three days trying to fix his side's defensive troubles more so with defender Murushid Juuko already suspended for the game against Ghana on January 17.
The 2019 qualifiers will have 12 groups, each with four teams. The group winners and three best overall runner-ups will qualify for the tournament.
For the first time, the host nation (Cameroon) will also be involved in the qualifiers.
If the host team is the winner of the group, the runner-up will automatically qualify to the final tournament. No other team will be eligible to qualify from this group.
Then, if the host team is a runner-up in the group, the winner of the group will qualify to the tournament.
The group stage of qualifying starts in June and concludes in November 2018.
Nations Cup kicks off
Meanwhile, the 2017 Nations Cup starts today, with a fixture between hosts Gabon and Guinea-Bissau in Libreville.
The success of the championship will depend on how well that hosts perform in a tournament that the locals have still not warmed up to due to the political tension in the country.
If Dortmund star Pierre Aubameyang fails to inspire Gabon against debutantes Guinea-Bissau today, there is a possibility that the hosts could fall at the first hurdle considering that the next fixtures will be against the experienced Burkina Faso and Cameroon.