It may have been a frustrating moment for Soanal’s Francis Olaki when media and fans alike demonised him for ‘stealing’, the FSL topscorer’s boot from KCC’s Tony Odur but, if his surpise visa to Madagascar is to be believed, he’ll be an future superstar for Uganda.
Olaki, 19, who has been picked in the final Uganda Cranes 19-man squad to the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifying campaign away to Madagascar at the Rabermanajara stadium on Sunday despite bigger options, is shown coach Milutin ‘Micho’s Sredojevic has lots of hopes in him as the next biggest thing in Ugandan football.
Emma Okwi’s little brother who scored 15 goals in the just concluded Uganda top tier league is finally shining though Okwi might have grabbed all the headlines in recent months for his impressive run with the Cranes.
Olaki a late inclusion in Uganda’s 2014 Championship of African Nations (CHAN) tournament in January after missing the local league close to two months and scored his first international goal against Mauritania here in Kampala three months ago.
Okwi is definitely a better player, but Olaki will get to his brother’s level if he keeps making progress. Under, Coach Richard Makumbi, Olaki is playing a central role for the club and will continue there through the season if fit and injury free. He has good pace and eye for goal.
Like Okwi, Olaki also runs through the channels brilliantly. His slender frame enables him twist and turn quickly, drive away from opponents in confined spaces.
He has wonderful dribbling skills and is also effective playing in the wide areas. The key is pairing him with the correct full-back. He drifts into the centre of the pitch so quickly that he needs someone constantly overlapping to stretch the opposition, and widen the options for him going forward. Surely he would be a good pick for Uganda in such an away game.
“Surely, i would have taken all the players summoned because we have a limited number to take. All the players have been good at trainining”, Micho said on Thursday evening at Namboole stadium.
Olaki made the team among the 3 forwards alongside Gor Mahia’s Dan Sserunkuma and Yanga striker, Emma Okwi.
Team captain, Andrew Mwesigwa connected with the rest of the teammates on Friday morning in Nairobi. Patrick Ogwel is head of delegation.
Goal Keepers: Hamza Muwonge (Thika United – Kenya) and Ismail Watenga (Vipers SC)
Defenders: Denis Iguma (SCVU), Joseph Ochaya (Asante Kotoko – Ghana), Savio Kabugo (SCVU), Henry Kalungi (Richmond Kickers – US), Andrew Mwesigwa (Ordabasy FC – Kazakhstan) and Isaac Isinde (St. George – Ethiopia)
Midfielders: Luwagga Kizito (Sporting Covilha – Portugal), Martin Mutumba (Turkey), Khalid Aucho (Tusker FC – Kenya), Geofrey ‘Baba’ Kizito (Gor Mahia – Kenya), Hassan Wasswa and Brian Majwega (KCC FC)
Strikers: Hamis Kiiza (Yanga SC – TZ), Daniel Sserunkuma (Gor Mahia FC – TZ), Francis Olaki (Soana FC) and Emmanuel Okwi (Yanga SC – TZ)
Head coach– Milutin Sredojevich
Assistants-Fred Kajoba and Kefa Kisala
Team doctor -Ronald Kisolo
Leader Of delegation -Ogwel Patrick Bernard
Team Cordinator-Crispus Muyinda
Media manager -Fred Katende Malibu
Cranes’ southern task
In their last meeting in 1983, Madagascar beat Uganda Cranes 1-0 at home before winning 2-1 in Kampala. “We shall not underrate our opponents, but we must work so hard as a team,” said assistant skipper striker Okwi.
The hosts, who have opted to stage the match on the artificial turf of the Stade Rabemananjara-Mahajanga Stadium, will rely on some of their foreign-based players like Johann Paul (Amieus, France), Lalaina Nomenjanahary (RC Lens, France) and USM Alger’s Carolus Andriamatsinoro.
On Wednesday, Micho pointed that training on the artificial turf in Njeru will prepare the players for the same conditions expected at Madagascar’s Rabemananjara Stadium in Mahajanga. “I call up on fans to have confidence in this Cranes team,’’ Micho hinted.
And Uganda, who have not qualified for AFCON since 1978, have vowed to play their hearts out in this campaign with winner between these two sides will face the winner between Mauritania and Equatorial Guinea in the final phase of the preliminary round.
South African referees
The game will be handled by South African officials. Victor Gomes Miguel who got a FIFA badge in 2011 will be the center referee. The 33 year Victor Gomes Miguel who was voted 2012 PSL referee of the year will be assisted by Stevens Khumalo Mothibidi and Sandile Dili Kane as linesmen.
Victor Lungwani Tinyiko will be the fourth official of the epic game that will be played on Sunday, while Zimbabwean Gladmore Muzambi will be the match commissioner.