South Sudan will face Uganda in a doubleheader in November
Goalkeeper Denis Onyango's return to the Uganda Cranes fold is a timely boost for the team ahead of the resumption of the AFCON qualifiers slated for November.
Onyango who had gone five games without featuring for the Cranes due to injury although other sources claim that he was off form, was part of the Mamelodi Sundowns team that defeated Bloemfontein Celtic 1-0 in the Nedbank Cup final to secure a domestic treble over the weekend.
A 79th-minute strike from Uruguayan forward Gaston Sirino saw Sundowns become the second team after Orlando Pirates in 2010/ 11 and 2011/12 seasons to clinch a domestic treble in the PSL era. Pitso Mosimane's side had already won the Telkom Knockout Cup and Absa Premier League.
Indeed Onyango's return paid off for the Masandawana as he executed several point-blank saves to deny Bloemfontein a goal.
Bloemfontein forward Victor Letsoalo's looping header from a corner-kick towards the end of the first half and midfielder Andile Fikizolo missed an opportunity in the final five minutes of the second half also via a corner are some of the saves Onyango pulled off for the ‘Brazilians' to emerge victors.
Onyango's latest accolade caps off a season in which he secured his seventh league title.
The Cranes custodian's absence was expected to create a selection headache for Cranes coach Jonathan McKinstry and his technical team with Salim Jamal Magoola and Robert Odongkara who regularly deputise Onyango not being in good form.
Magoola has been locked in a battle with Sudan's Al Hilal over unpaid arrears and the case is reportedly being handled by FIFA.
Reports also indicate that AI Hilal has already contacted Magoola and his representatives to withdraw the case from FIFA since there are willing to clear the arrears. In fact, Magoola was expected to return to Sudan last weekend ahead of the new season.
For Odongkara, he has had little playing time with Guinea's Horoya AC, so his chances of returning to the national team are still limited.
However, with Onyango back, Cranes can breathe a sigh of relief as they prepare to confront South Sudan in the double-header.
South Sudan who have not won any game so far in the 2021 qualifiers will face Uganda on November 9 in Kampala thereafter host the return leg on November 17.
With the sports sector in the country still on lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, it's not yet known when the suspension will be lifted.