FootballNational TeamsUganda Cranes

AFCON Qualifiers: Mike Azira Relishes Namboole Return

Mike Azira (2) training with the Cranes outside Namboole on Friday ahead of Sunday’s AFCON qualifier against Malawi. FUFA photo

When Mike Azira walks out of the Namboole tunnel on Sunday, November 17 2019 as Uganda Cranes face Malawi in AFCON qualifiers, it will be exactly two years and five days since the intelligent midfielder last played for Cranes at the stadium.

Azira, on November 12, 2016, came off the bench to replace Tonny Mawejje in the 59th minute against Congo in the World Cup qualifiers.

Farouk Miya scored an early goal in the 18th minute as the Cranes, under Sredejovich Micho Milutin won 1-0 on home soil.

It will not be a bad result if history repeats itself on Sunday.

US-Based Azira. Courtesy photo

‘Its a big chance to play at home in front of the home fans. Namboole is fantastic and I just can’t wait to go,” said a soft spoken Azira who has rubbed shoulders with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Nicholas Gaitan in Chicago Fire’s midfield.

Azira was part of Uganda Cranes team in 2017 Gabon and 2019 Egypt AFCON tourneys.

The midfielder also featured against Burkina Faso as Cranes picked a priceless goalless draw away in Ouagadougou on Wednesday.

Speaking about the team’s preparations ahead of Malawi’s encounter, Azira revealed:

“Our focus is to win our games, we are not taking them (Malawi) for granted, they have played here before but we are at home and we want to win.

“This is a game we need to win, we are focussed especially after that draw against Burkina. We wanted a win on Wednesday but one is better than zero so that point has played a big role and we are ready to build on that.”

Azira is expected to start in the middle of the park alongside Khalid Aucho as new Cranes coach Jonathan Mckinstry seek to overcome Malawi who beat South Sudan 1-0.

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