Uganda coach Milutin Sredojevic says his team will do everything possible to go beyond the group stage at the 2022 TotalEnergies African Nations championship.
The Cranes will take on two-time winners DR Congo in their first Group B game in the Algerian city of Annaba on Saturday.
The East Africans are making their sixth appearance at the tournament designed only for home-based players but have been unable to go past the group stage, a jinx their Serbian trainer wants to break.
“Uganda have qualified for six CHAN tournaments, on the previous occasions we have been unlucky or lacked something but this time around we want to do everything to pass the group stages,” Milutin Sredojević said during his pre-match press conference on Friday.
“We respect DR Congo and the other opponents but this is our objective. We will give everything to attain this beginning from tomorrow.
The Serbian led Uganda to a 2-0 win against DR Congo at the TotalEnergies AFCON 2019 in Egypt, but says there’s a big dichotomy between these two competitions.
“This is a totally different game, that match in 2019 is past. We have a new generation of players. CHAN is usually a representation of the performance of our clubs in the interclub competitions. We know Mazembe, Lupopo, Vita Club are doing well but we have our qualities and believe small details decide this.
Lodged in Group B alongside DR Congo, Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal, it is going to be a tough battle but Sredojevic knows exactly what it takes to come out of the group.
“We are playing a DR Congo team that has won two CHAN competitions. It is a clash between a team that has the obsession to do it again and another that wants to do everything to pass the group stages.
Sredojevic, a highly experienced hand in African football, will be making his fourth personal TotalEnergies CHAN tournament appearance – the third with Uganda.
He previously took the Cranes to the 2014 and 2016 editions before guiding Zambia to the quarter-finals of the 2020 edition in Cameroon, where they were eliminated by defending champions Morocco.
“History counts for nothing. You are as good as your next match. This is my fourth tournament,” said the Serbian who has coached in Ethiopia and South Africa after his sojourns with Uganda and Zambia.
“It must be said that I passed the group with Zambia in the last tournament but that counts for nothing. The most important thing is to do everything to get a result tomorrow.
The 53-year-old, who is in his second stint with the Cranes, hailed the efforts of the Ugandan government and FA in supporting the growth of football.
“We appreciate our government and Federation for doing everything to make sure that we have all we need to have a good tournament. Tomorrow presents an opportunity for my players to show that they know how to play football.”
Uganda captain Milton Karisa, is expected to play a key role in Micho’s side in this year’s competition having missed most of the matches of his side in their previous appearance.
The Vipers winger suffered an injury in their first game of the last edition of the TotalEnergies CHAN in Cameroon against Rwanda, but he is now back with big ambitions.w
“We came here very focused. We are keen on getting results. The Uganda Cranes of 2020 and this have a big difference under a great coach here. I believe we have more quality and we can pull a surprise,” said Karisa.
“I know a little bit about the Congolese team and I respect them but in the end it will be 11 versus 11.”