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AFCON U20: Hippos off to Mauritania ahead of finals

The Uganda U20 national men’s football team, the Hippos have on Wednesday morning set off for Mauritania ahead of the 2021 African Cup of nations.

The Hippos who have been in Tanzania for the last week or so, left Julius Nyerere Airport at 5am aboard Egypt Air and are expected to arrive in Nouakchott, Mauritania on Thursday morning at around 2am.

Some of the Hippos players at the Julius Nyerere Airport on Wednesday morning. (PHOTOS/FUFA)

Uganda will take part in their first-ever AFCON U20 tournament after sealing qualification last year following a triumph at the CECAFA Championship in Tanzania.

They have been gearing up for the finals’ for a while now, first holding several training sessions in Kampala before setting off for Tanzania for a mini tournament.

At the mini tournament, they played a double header against the hosts after Namibia, who were supposed to be the third opponent, withdrew sighting several COVID-19 tests among their players and technical team.

The two games against Tanzania produced mixed results for the Hippos as they won one and lost the other.

After triumphing 1-0 in the first game, Morely Byekwaso’s side got beat 5-3 in the second.

At the AFCON finals, they are drawn in Group A alongside the hosts, Cameroon and Mozambique.

The Hippos first game will be on 15th against Mozambique then face Cameroon on the 17th before taking on the hosts three days later.

What you need to know about this year’s edition

The 2021 Africa U-20 Cup of Nations will be the 16th edition of the AFCON U20 (23nd edition if tournaments without hosts are included).

This is a biennial international youth football tournament organized by the CAF for players aged 20 and below.

In September 2018, it was decided that the tournament would be hosted by Mauritania.

This will be the first edition in Africa U-20 Cup of Nations to have expanded to 12 teams instead of eight.

The top four teams of the tournament would have normally qualified for the 2021 FIFA U20 World Cup in Indonesia as the CAF representatives. However, FIFA decided to cancel the tournament on 24 December 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year’s edition will have three groups consisting of four teams each with the top two from each group (after the group stage) qualifying for the quarter finals along with two best third-placed teams.

The Hippos squad that will represent Uganda at the AFCON finals

Goalkeepers

Komakech Jack (Ascent SA), Oyo Delton (Busoga United FC), Ssenyondwa Denis Kaala (SC Villa).

Defenders

Kizito Mugweri Gavin (SC Villa), Semakula Kenneth (Busoga United FC), Musa Ramathan (KCCA FC) Kafumbe Joseph (KCCA FC), Begisa James Penz (UPDF FC), Baligeya Simon (Kibuli SS), Abdul Azizi Kayondo (Vipers SC).

Midfielders

Mugulusi Isma (Busoga United FC), Yiga Najib (Vipers SC), Bobosi Byaruhanga (Vipers SC) Sserwadda Steven (KCCA FC), Eyamu Ivan (Mbarara City FC), Kawooya Andrew (KCCA FC), Asaba Ivan (Vipers SC), Ssekajja Davis (Bright Stars FC), Wabyoona Faisal (Big Talent SA).

Fowards

Bogere Ivan (Proline FC), Ssenyonjo Samuel (KCCA FC), Kakooza Derrick (Police FC), Basangwa Richard (Vipers SC), Bukenya Joseph Kizza (KCCA FC), Ssali Alpha Thierry (Proline FC).

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