Groups and teams
Group A: Egypt (hosts), DRC, Uganda, Zimbabwe
Group B: Nigeria, Guinea, Madagascar, Burundi
Group C: Senegal, Algeria, Kenya, Tanzania
Group D: Morocco, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Namibia
Group E: Tunisia, Mali, Mauritania, Angola
Group F: Cameroon (holders), Ghana, Benin, Guinea-Bissau
The Total 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) promises some mouthwatering clashes in the six venues across Egypt –with three in Cairo and one each in Alexandria, Ismailia and Suez. KCCA FC manager Mike Mutebi has tipped Uganda to put up a strong performance at the 24-team tournament due June 21-July 19. Uganda (Cranes) was on Friday drawn in group A with hosts and seven-time record winners Egypt (The Pharaohs), two-time champions Democratic Republic of Congo -DRC (The Leopards) and resilient Zimbabwe (The Warriors), who qualified for only the second time since 2004. The Pearl of Africa kicks off the campaign against DRC on June 22 before playing Zimbabwe and Egypt respectively. The former Cranes manager says that the Cranes won’t be pushovers in Egypt just as it looked two years ago when they only registered one point and goal before being dumped out at the group stage although he maintains that Uganda is the ‘weakest’ side in the group. “Egypt and DRC have pedigree and Zimbawe have modified their game. The Cranes’ opponents are good tournament teams and Zimbawe in particular, has modified their game to an extent of fetching scoring wins away from home,” noted Mutebi, who though believes that the gap between the traditional AFCON giants and other teams like Uganda has narrowed. “There is no big gap between all the teams in the group. We just need to prepare well and earlier, give confidence to players and also play our game. I believe we can compete especially if the players take it to themselves to perform; although hosts (Egypt) have some advantage,” added Mutebi, who handled the Cranes in 2004. The Cranes were drawn in the same group with Egypt in the 2017 AFCON and lost 1-0 under Serbian Milutin Micho Sredojevic guidance, who has since been replaced by French Sebastien Desabre. Uganda qualified to this year’s tournament with a game in hand and was yet to concede before the horror 3-0 away loss to Tanzania in the last qualifier fixture. Among the group A teams, DRC is the highest ranked in the latest FIFA ranking -46 while Egypt, Uganda and Zimbabwe follow in the 57, 79 and 102 position respectively. Both Zimbabwe and Congo have country men as head coaches while Egypt and Uganda have tacticians from Mexico and France respectively. Zimbawe and Uganda topped their respective groups in the qualifiers while DRC and Egypt came as runners up. Zimbawe and Congo were in the same group with the latter losing at home 2-1 and drawing 1-1 in the fixture respectively. It is Uganda’s fifth appearance at the continental showpiece -with the best performance coming in 1978 when they finished second behind champions Ghana. The Cranes finished 4th in 1962 and did not get past group stage in 1968 and 2017. Meanwhile, Group F brought together the second and third most successful sides in its history. Defending champions Cameroon, who won their fifth continental crown last time and were originally set to host the competition, will face four-time winners Ghana. The top two finishers in each group and four best third-place teams qualify for second round.