With football seemingly locked within the current coronavirus pandemic, the scheduling of leagues and tournaments around the world has proved difficult. Although domestic leagues are starting to be revived, the international game has not been so fortunate. As the likes of the Premier League and La Liga return to the playing field, there has been a keen interest regarding WV online betting. With swathes of dollars being staked in the past few weeks, the focus will eventually shift to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
While it is World Cup qualification that is on the CAF’s agenda and with the original set of second-round dates having been rescheduled, the hope, if not the expectation, is that the first set of fixtures will take place in October of this year.
Forty nations have either progressed or slotted into this stage of the qualification process, and with Uganda’s national team being placed in Group E, only topping the table will be enough to advance further.
Four teams have been placed in Group E (the same setup in the other nine groups) and taking up the role of opposition and, more importantly, standing in the way of The Cranes’ World Cup dream, are the trio of Mali, Kenya, and Rwanda.
With Mali being ranked 59th in FIFA’s July 2019 rankings – the month in which the draw for the first round took place, they are the highest placed of the foursome and, therefore, will be favorites to progress.
However, Uganda themselves cannot be overlooked. With a respectable 80th place in those same rankings, manager Johnny McKinstry will be confident of causing a relative upset and taking his group of players to the next stage.
Kenya is the third of three seeded teams in Group E. Although they can call upon Victor Wanyama and the talents of the former Southampton and Tottenham midfielder, they will find themselves facing an uphill struggle in terms of qualification.
Then again, with Rwanda having to qualify from the first round and to get the better of Seychelles in the process, they will have the toughest act to carry out, and the likelihood of them edging closer to a Qatar dream are relatively slim on the ground.
However, their two-legged tie with Seychelles did produce plenty of goals – 10 of them, in fact, and although the level of opposition will now be ramped up considerably, their strikers will undoubtedly be in fine fettle.
As far as Uganda is concerned, having a Northern Irish manager at the helm may seem a little out of the ordinary and especially as Africa’s international coaching scene is one that usually has a French journeyman in charge.
However, you could argue that McKinstry himself is something of an international journeyman. With previous stints in charge of Sierra Leone and Rwanda, he has already cut his teeth at this level of competition.
Of course, with time in charge of Rwanda under his belt, the 34-year-old will already have an extensive knowledge base when it comes to potential tactics and personnel. Therefore the Cranes will go into battle with Amuvabi both primed and ready.
With the Lisburn-born coach taking charge of a team that featured in last year’s Africa Cup of Nations, there is a feeling that this is a team that is on the up, and McKinstry himself has stated that he wants their recent progress to continue.
After this appointment last September, he outlined his ambition, and although they may have seemed rather grand on face value, there’s absolutely no reason why this group of players cannot dream big.
A dream that hopefully sees them return to the next edition of the Africa Cup of Nations in 2021, but more importantly, will see the nation make its FIFA World Cup bow a year later – a dream that, if realized, will see McKinstry’s global value rise even higher.
Ultimately there is a sense of one step at a time, and the Cranes will need to learn to walk before they can run, and even if they manage to finish top of the six-game Group E schedule that has been outlined, there is still one more hurdle left to clear.
Progress from Group E would then see Uganda enter the third and final round of the qualification phase, and from there, two five-nation groups will play in a double round-robin, in a bid to provide the CAF’s World Cup representatives.
That is where the hard work begins, and should they get that far, McKinstry and his players will be testing themselves against the best the continent has to offer. However, if they do get that far, they will be in with a very good shout of reaching Qatar and fulfilling the dream of a nation.