The Cranes of Uganda will mark their first back to back AFCON championships in 39 years when they take the Leopards of DR Congo in the opening round of matches in the summer showdown at the Cairo International stadium.
The unpredictable Cranes ended their long absence from the continent’s premier football on the international platform with an appearance at the 2017 version and have since capitalized to book their ticket to Egypt.
Led by French trainer, Sebastien Desabre, Uganda remain one of the less fancied but highly overachieving teams in Egypt with the watertight Denis Oyango topping the log.
Denis Oyango and his metallic Cranes failed to concede a single goal in the opening 5 matches, only ceding in the cosmetic last fixture at the hands of the Taifa Stars of Tanzania.
Azam FC defensive stalwart, Nicholas Wadada, is expected to earn a starting berth in the team with Joseph Ochaya and Timothy Awanyi all set to feature against the Leopards.
In midfield, Farouk Miya will lead the quartet that has Simba SC Emmanuel Okwi and Micheal Azira flanking on the wings.
Derrick Nsibambi and Lumala Abdou are expected to lead the attacking line with Patrick Kaddu providing stern options on the bench.
On their part, the Leopards are expected to inflict some lasting injuries on the Cranes with their fearsome attacking trio led by Cedric Bakambu.
The two times AFCON Champions limped in the qualifiers and will need to raise their game If they are to match their peers in the summer festivities.
Florent Ibenga and his charges can boast of Issama Mpeko at the back whiles the impressive form of Ley Matampi in Saudi Arabia is set to boost their goalkeeping department.
Skipper, Yuossuf Mulumbu, will need to bring his Premiership experience to the party with Tresor Mabizela Mputu rolling back the years for Tuit Pius Mazembe.
Cedric Bakamabu and Jonathan Bolingi remain the likeliest pair. Meshack Ellia remains the wild card to cause the damage for the Leopards.
Statistically, the two teams have met on 3 occasions with the Cranes winning 2 as against the Leopard’s lone victory.