That Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia finished in that order at the just-ended Dstv Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup in Addis Ababa was not an accident.
By winning their unprecedented 14th Cecafa title, thanks to Caesar Okhuti’s 15th minute header for a 1-0 victory over Rwanda on Saturday, Uganda further underlined their superiority in the region.
For Rwanda, although they qualified for Chan 2016 by virtue of being hosts, they showed in Addis that they will be more than hosts in January, while bronze medallists Ethiopia made their intentions pretty clear.
Little wonder then that it is these three that will again be challenging for honours from this regional from this zone in January, a tournament Cranes coach Micho Sredojevic believes Cecafa has fittingly prepared them for.
“During this Cecafa I have fixed all departments and everything about Chan preparations, including international friendly matches,” roared the 46-year-old after winning his first ever Cecafa title.
And few will contest Micho’s assertions about his readiness for Chan. He boats of a team that have mainly been together and played through the Caf U23 and Chan qualifiers.
Actually, Micho will not need to change much the team that stretched the gap between Uganda and a distant second Kenya to eight Cecafa titles.
Goalkeepers: Micho and goalkeeping coach Fred Kajoba will be credited for using all the three goalkeepers. James Alitho played two games, conceding the only two goals in open play - against Kenya - on a day he was Uganda’s man of the match. Mathias Kigonya got a chance against Burundi until the more experienced Ismail Watenga took charge of the final three matches. Unless there are injuries, the trio should go to Kigali.
Defenders: Denis Okot has been impressive at right back and his overlapping runs and crosses, one of them setting up winner in the final, have been a joy to watch. With the impressive Mrushid Jjuuko ineligible for Chan since he plays for Simba in Tanzania, Hassan Wasswa ‘Dazo’ should challenge Shafiq Bakaki for Richard Kassaga’s partner in central defence, while high-powered Joseph Ochaya and versatile Isaac Muleme have the left flank sorted.
Midfielders: Defender Bernard Muwanga surprised in holding role alongside indefatigable Ivan Ntege. Muzamiru Mutyaba, Keziron Kizito and Erisa Ssekisambu did decently in their interchangeable creative roles and should replicate in Kigali.
Forwards: Frank Kalanda can always steal in with a goal. Nelson Ssenkatuka got his debut here but he will hope Robert Ssentongo’s passport stays in the safe for a few more weeks. Caesar Okhuti and skipper Farouk Miya, Uganda’s top scorers with three each, are the first names on the team sheet.
Uganda 1-0 Rwanda
Third place play-off
Ethiopia 1-1 Sudan (5-4)
$30,000 (Shs100m): Uganda
$20,000 (Shs66m): Rwanda
$10,000 (Shs33m): Ethiopia
Man of the Match (final): Muzamiru Mutyaba
Man of the Tournament: Eliyas Mamo (Ethiopia)
Best Goalkeeper: Ismail Watenga (Uganda)
Top Scorer: Atahir Babikiir (Sudan), 5 Goals
Best Coach: Johnny Mckinstry (Rwanda)
Winners since 2006
2014: Not held
SOURCE: DAILY MONITOR