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A Look Ahead to the African Nations Championship (CHAN)

The 6th Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) kicks off in Yaounde’s Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo on the 4th April, with hosts Cameroon taking on Zimbabwe.

Here we give you a brief history of the tournament, and who is looking good for lifting the trophy on the 25th April. We also assess the Cranes’ group and their chances of getting out of it.

A Quick Guide to the CHAN

The Africa Nations Championship had its inaugural tournament in 2009, with Ivory Coast as the hosts. There were just 8 teams in that tournament, but it has subsequently been expanded to 16, and is held every two years. It had a boost in 2014 when FIFA recognized the games as legitimate first team fixtures.

What sets the tournament apart from the more high-profile Africa Cup of Nations is that in the CHAN, only players currently playing in the country of their birth are eligible. This helps to very much level the playing field, and is an opportunity for the likes of Uganda to compete with those nations who boast squads with superstar names.

The likes of Senegal and Egypt don’t enter the CHAN, both countries with squads littered with players who ply their trade in Europe’s top tiers, including at Liverpool who have all but won the title, meaning the only Premier League odds worth looking at are those for Champions League places and relegation.

There are plenty of representatives of the EPL and other top leagues in teams that do enter the tournament, and it gives the players still playing domestically a chance to shine and put themselves in the shop window.

DR Congo have been the most successful country so far, winning the tournament twice, with Tunisia, Libya and current holders Morocco also having won it. DR Congo and Libya are both in the same group (B). See here for a full breakdown of the groups.

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The Cranes’ Group and Chances

Uganda have been at every tournament, but have never managed to get out of the group stages, so they will be hoping to go at least one better this time around. To that end, they are hosting a mini tournament in preparation.

Uganda are in Group C, along with current holders Morocco, Rwanda and first time participants Togo. Uganda are the only nation to have qualified more than twice and not got through the group stages. They are currently unbeaten in the last 14 matches however, something that will give Jonathan McKinstry and his side confidence and a belief that this time they can progress.

The top two teams in each group go through to the quarter finals, so the Cranes will need to finish above two of the sides in Group C. Morocco are undoubtedly the top team in the group, though they will be forced to play without their foreign based stars, who make up 21 of their 24 man squad in the African Nations Tournament. Despite that, it is likely to come down to the games against Togo and Rwanda.

Rwanda and Uganda have enjoyed similar results against Ethiopia of late, so it is difficult to gauge much form from that, and the last time they played each other was over a two leg qualifier, both teams winning their home leg, Uganda edging the tie courtesy of their 3-0 victory versus Rwanda’s 2-0 one.

Togo will be somewhat of an unknown quantity. The last time they played Uganda was in 2016, the Cranes losing to the game’s only goal.

Uganda’s first game of the tournament is against Rwanda on the 6th April at Douala. They then play Togo four days later, again at Douala, before facing Morocco on the 14th there. Regardless of anything else, the tournament is a good chance to improve their FIFA ranking against potentially weakened teams.

Uganda currently sit in 77th position, with fellow Group C teams Morocco in 43rd, Togo in 126th and Rwanda in 131st.  If those can be used as a barometer of form, then this could very well be the year that sees The Cranes fly into the latter stages of the tournament.

 


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