The 2017 Nations Cup finalists – Uganda Cranes – started training in earnest for the event they last graced four decades ago, yesterday, w...
The 2017 Nations Cup finalists – Uganda Cranes – started training in earnest for the event they last graced four decades ago, yesterday, with coach Micho Sredojevic delivering a powerful speech emboldened with inspiring undertones.
Players, 27 out of the big squad of 40 that he earlier summoned, and the coaching staff had finished praying – arms connecting on each other’s shoulders – when they later stood with the attention only reserved for headmaster at a school parade.
“Not everyone will enter the 23 that will take us to complete this journey,” started Micho as he addressed his players, who turned up for the very first of a series of trainings ahead of Afcon next month, at Paradise Fitness Gym in Kampala.
The team later did ball work at Kabira Country Club, Bukoto before entering camp at Serene Suites in Mutundwe from where they will be commuting to partake in at least two training sessions daily until a short Christmas break.
“But everyone is important to this journey,” continued the Serbian coach, “And the job in front of us is clear.
“All 15 countries at the Africa Cup of Nations have financial and other issues settled (sic). With us we are struggling with a million things with training camps abroad and other logistics still not in place.”
The players listened on intently. “For us what we can offer is we need to be the most motivated team at Nations.
“If you are not motivated by not having enough, then I don’t know what motivates you. With us, there is no way to look back.”
Micho knew which nerves to touch. None of these players has played at top most level internationally, and they know what it means for their careers if they turn up in Gabon. “For them (Uganda’s opponents), with or without Afcon, they can survive. For you, it’s everything.
“We already achieved 25 per cent by qualifying, the President of this country has also promised to support us with 25 per cent logistics and all. The other 25 per cent is these preparations, and the final 25 per cent is the actual action in Gabon.
“The strongest feeling in football is ‘I Can’.
This is the strongest feeling in football and if you don’t have it, then I don’t know. What we are starting is ‘work hard now, to feel easier after.'”
The team will take a Christmas break before resuming on December 26. Thereafter they have friendlies against Gabon, Libya, Tunisia, Slovakia and Ivory Coast.