Uganda Cranes interim head coach Abdallah Mubiru says not every on-form player will be summoned to the national team.
This follows media and fan outcry concerning some players especially in the local league, who they wished to be called to the team as Uganda prepares for the upcoming international friendly against South Africa on June 10.
Mubiru made the remarks during an interview by the Federation of Uganda Football Association media after naming a 34-squad to start preparations for the friendly.
The Police FC tactician along with his technical also named Emmanuel Okwi as the new Cranes captain, a choice that he defended.
“We appointed him as the captain of Uganda Cranes based on experience, discipline and a role model. Okwi is committed and a winner always. He settles for nothing but a win. He will always try to do anything possible to make sure the team wins. He is also down to earth and relates very well with the young and senior players. We are yet to announce the assistants which will be a committee of three to four captains with the head captain who will handle some issues. As head coach I can always hand bigger issues.”
Mubiru who replaced Johnathan McKinstry last month, is tasked with leading Uganda into a new phase after failing to qualify for the 2022 AFCON finals in Cameroon.
However, the gaffer knows it will be hard to step into the boots of his predecessor especially with several players having retired of late, including the captain Denis Onyango.
“It is not easy to come in and replace someone who was successful. The transition is not going to be easy because the previous team beat their target which was qualifying for AFCON which they did on two occasions making them successful in that aspect. It is not easy to replace a player like Denis Onyango in a team. However players come and go like Paul Hasule, Jimmy Kirunda, Phillip Omondi (all RIP), Jackson Mayanja, Sam Simbwa and the list is endless but still the team continued. We are not only looking towards replacing Denis Onyango because I think that is not a small task but now. We are trying to create a new hunger in the team not only qualifying for AFCON but winning it and qualifying for the World Cup. We are trying to create a new image in the team which is achievable. However we can’t achieve that alone. Everyone attached to the team must be committed to that including the fans.”
With several young players being integrated into the senior team, to fill the void left by the seniors who retired, Mubiru notes that they intend to create a new task.
“Some senior players retired from the team and had to be replaced with youth, most of whom represented the country at AFCON U-20 in Mauritania. We are not only building a team but creating a new task putting in mind the success the country achieved during the AFCON U-20 where the boys went up to the final. We cannot take that for granted. We can build from that success we achieved for better results, that is our target.”
About the upcoming friendly, Mubiru had this to say;
“It is a foundation stage of building; the target is seeing that players are confident and express themselves. That’s our target to achieve out of the South African game. We are trying to test our confidence, have a team that can express themselves very well when playing the game. We are looking towards playing the game in all its four stages that is the defensive transition and attacking transition.”
The team that is preparing to take on South Africa does not include last season’s Uganda Premier League top scorer Steve Mukwala and several other players who have flourished in the top flight, this campaign.
The move has led to some criticism from the media and fans who claim that some of those players have earned a right to be on the team.
However, Mubiru does not think so.
“Yes, there are so many fans who feel that some players were neglected but that is their feeling. Everyone has a choice. It is not true that everyone on form will be guaranteed to play for the National team. I have always tried to explain about the National team-we assemble players according to what the coaches think should look like. So we try to get the players who will bring out that picture. We have so many good players who will get a chance when the time comes but at the moment, we selected those we feel we are more comfortable to work with and we shall be assessing their performance when need be. We shall think about other players and those left out in future. I call upon the fans to respect our decisions as we also respect theirs.”