Cranes’ team selection under scrutiny

By James Bakama

In this era when we are supposed to be promoting local football, isn’t it disrespectful not to reward good performance?

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A look at the composition of the Cranes squad set to face Tanzania this weekend and FUFA’s choice of training destination raises the question of whether we are getting our priorities right.

The team left Sunday for Egypt where they will train in the northern city of Ismailia ahead of the final Nations Cup group match against Taifa Stars Dar es Salaam.

What’s disturbing though is the presence on the squad of clubless players Godfrey Walusimbi and Hassan Wasswa.

Wasswa’s last club was Egyptian side Gaish that he joined in 2017 while Walusimbi was until January with South African team Kaiser Chiefs.

Even more intriguing is absence on the squad of StarTimes Uganda Premier League stars Juma Balinya, Bashir Mutanda, Joel Madondo and Daniel Sserunkuma. Balinya is at 16 goals the current top scorer.

Mutanda and Madondo are also enjoying good form just like last season’s top marksman Sserunkuma.

In this era when we are supposed to be promoting local football, isn’t it disrespectful not to reward good performance?

Not that I have anything against Wasswa and Walusimbi. Both in fact put up a good show at our last appearance in the biennial competition in Gabon in 2017. What however disqualifies them right now is their inactivity.

So, against what parameters have they been qualified? After failing to it make it in their foreign clubs, the least they should have done to show seriousness would have been an attachment to local clubs.

But now going by the trend, it seems like merit is the last thing on our national team selection. Just imagine the effect Walusimbi and Wasswa’s presence will have on the local players’ morale!

That this is not the first time such a thing is happening, says volumes about our selection.

You have certainly also not forgotten when a club less Khalid Aucho was always also assured of a place.

Then also now that we have already qualified isn’t it also prudent to try out active local prayers?

This would in effect mean resting some of the regulars for talents like Balinya and Sserunkuma.

It would also be interesting to know why Ismaila was FUFA’s best choice for preparation. Familiarisation is supposed to be key in such trips.

Dar es Salaam to the contrary happens to be a world different from Ismailia. A training camp in say Maputo would have made more sense. Intentions become even more intriguing considering the travel inconvenience.

There has been the argument that since Uganda will be based in Ismaila at the forthcoming Africa Cup of Nations, then it makes sense to try out the Egyptian city now. But the tournament will be in July. Conditions in Ismailia in March and July are very different.

So, why not try out the Egyptian city after the qualifiers? Are we really getting our priorities right?