All to play for as Uganda Cranes host Taifa Stars in exiled derby

Milutin Sredojevic takes the Uganda Cranes through the drills ahead of the game (COURTESY)

AFCONQ All to play for as Uganda Cranes host Taifa Stars in exiled derby

Fred Mwambu 17:20 - 23.03.2023

The Fennec Foxes have been peerless leading the group with six points after two games both, identical 2-0 wins, against CECAFA heavyweights Uganda and Tanzania.

Algeria was expected to dominate Group F of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers that comprises Niger, Tanzania and Uganda.

The Fennec Foxes have been peerless leading the group with six points after two games both, identical 2-0 wins, against CECAFA heavyweights Uganda and Tanzania.

Niger follows Algeria from a distance with only two points while the East Africans sit bottom with a point apiece, earned from their identical 1-all draws against the West Africans.


Well, Algeria plays Niger late on Thursday while the Cranes host Taifa Stars a day later. The disturbing news for the latter is that Uganda had to travel over 2,700 km away to host the match.

ALSO, READ - Belmadi rallies Algerian stars to go for qualification against Niger

That is after FUFA failed to find a suitable facility that meets CAF’s minimum standards. Tanzania, Uganda’s direct opponent, is the only neighbour that had a facility.

The federation was left with no option but to settle on the Suez Canal Stadium which ticks their boxes as well.

Pros dominate

Both teams have summoned squads heavily dominated by foreign-based players who are expected to play a big part in the game.

Uganda’s coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic recalled South African-based goalkeeper Salim Jamal, who for long alongside Robert Odongkara, acted as an understudy to retired captain Denis Onyango. 

ALSO, READ - FUFA warn UBC against advertising or airing Uganda Cranes-Tanzania match

Strikers Steven Mukwala, Farouk Miya, Fahad Bayo and Joseph Ochaya were also recalled.

Ochaya, Richard Basangwa and Gavin Kizito are familiar with the Egyptian weather going by the fact that they play club football there.

Other key players include assistant captain Khalid Aucho who is expected to man the midfield alongside Bobosi Byaruhanga who features for Austin Fc in the United States. Aucho plays for Yanga in Tanzania.

Israel-based Timothy Awany, and Aziz Kayondo who crossed over to Spanish side CD Leganese from USA, Steven.

On the other side, newly-appointed Adel Amrouche summoned 13 who play outside the continent. 

They include their poster boy and captain Mbwana Samatta, Kelvin John and Novatus Dismas who play in Belgium for Genk and Zulte Waregem. Ben Starkie and Haji Mnnoga work in English lower leagues.

Samatta, a former Aston villa who is on loan from European giants Fernabahce is the highest rank player from the two camps.

Himid Mao brings the Egyptian experience.

Odds on Cranes

In one of his interviews, Samatta admitted that Uganda is “a tough nut to crack amongst all” Tanzania’s “East African rivals”.

In the last 20 fixtures between the two nations, the Cranes have won 11, the Stars five while four ended square.

However, the Stars won 3-0 when the pair last met in the AFCON qualifiers in 2019 as they qualified for the 2019 finals in Egypt.

Samatta believes they have made strides to narrow the gap.

“We have made some strides in recent times including a win over them in a friendly in Libya,” he added.

Contrasting styles

Micho is expected to continue with their usual defensive approach deploying at least five defensive players in his set up plus Aucho playing deep. 

Awany and Lwaliwa are expected to start at the heart of defence as Kizito and Kayondo patrol the right and left wings.

SC Villa defender Kenneth Semakula could provide more cover for the backline as Bobosi and Aucho man the midfield.

Ochaya and Emmanuel Okwi could return on the left and right-wing to throw balls for Bayo upfront.

On the other hand, Amrouche loves possessing and build-up play. Aishi Manula is likely to maintain his place in goal following a good run with Simba in the CAF Champions League and league. 

Samatta will undoubtedly lead their striking line. 

Dickson Job is expected to retain his place as center-back but the coach will have to tinker with the rest after dropping Shomari Kapombe, Mohammed Hussein and Bakari Nondo.

Yanga’s Mudathir Yahya and Feisal Salum could be thrown in a heavily loaded-midfield alongside Novatus Dismas, Simon Msuva and Himid Mao.

More at stake

Such high-stake derbies need extra motivation. The Tanzanians will be the biggest winners after their government promised shs. 800 million in case they qualify for the final tournament. A positive result from the two matches could surely boost the team.

Uganda Cranes were promised an extra shs.1.5 million for every player if they win both games. The staff will also share five million in the shs. 50 million package.

What they said

Micho - It is the small details that will decide and we want to do everything possible for those details to be on our side. When I analyse everything and every single detail, I am convinced that we are tactically aware of the sources of vulnerability and points of danger in the Tanzanian team.I believe that we are mentally ready, technically effective and tactically competitive


Uganda – Uganda Cranes

Tanzania – Taifa Stars


Uganda – Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic

Tanzania - Adel Amrouche

Head-to-head (last 20 matches)

Uganda – won 11

Tanzania – won 5

Form Guide

Uganda – LD

Tanzania - DL

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