KAMPALA: Uganda’s Under 17 National Team-the Cubs will start off their campaign of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) CECAFA Zonal Qualifiers against Burundi today, Monday, October 3, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
This came after the fresh draws conducted on Sunday, which pitted Uganda in group B alongside South Sudan and Burundi. The fresh draws were conducted after players from Sudan and Djibouti failed to pass the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) test, while Rwanda and Eritrea had earlier withdrawn from the tournament. Then two issues delayed the tournament, which was supposed to kick off earlier on September 30, 2022.
“The national U-17 teams of Sudan and Djibouti have been disqualified ahead of the start of the U-17 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers for the CECAFA Zone in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,” reads the statement issued before the fresh draws.
The competition, which originally had to feature ten participants, will now be played between six countries. Group A hosts Ethiopia, Somalia, and Tanzania. The Uganda Cubs are attempting to defend their title, which they won in Tanzania in 2019.
The tournament will serve as the region’s qualifier for the Under-17 African Cup of Nations, with the two finalists earning direct entry to the continental showpiece, which will be held in Algeria in April 2023.
The last edition of the U-17 AFCON was cancelled, and the 2023 edition will be the first edition of the Africa U-17 Cup of Nations to have expanded to 12 teams instead of eight. Each of the six zones received two spots in the final tournament.
The team, under the stewardship of coach Hamza Lutalo, trained for almost two weeks at the FUFA Technical Centre in Njeru in a bid to shape up for the tournament before departing to Ethiopia on September 25, 2022.
Ahmed Hussein, FUFA Communications Director, told URN that “All 22 players of the Uganda U17 team (Cubs) passed the mandatory MRI tests conducted by CAF ahead of the CAF U17 Zonal (CECAFA) Qualifiers in Ethiopia.”