FIFA World Cup Qualifiers 2022 (Group E)
Uganda, Mali, Kenya, and Rwanda
Uganda Cranes will face two East African side and a Western African country on their journey to qualify for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar 2022. During the draws held on Tuesday night in Cairo, the Kenya Harambe Stars and Rwanda Amavubi Stars are the two East African teams drawn along with the Cranes in Group E.
West African giants Mali are the other nation in the group which has all the four nations looking forward to their first ever qualification to the biggest football stage in the world.
Uganda Cranes head coach Johnathan McKinstry believes that Uganda Cranes in recent years has done better than the neighbors and is optimistic the Cranes will make it to the next round of qualification.
“On the footballing level, Uganda has done better than Kenya and Rwanda in recent years. Derby games can throw up surprising results and are so unpredictable but we will play them with high perfection and a lot of focus. We shall be fully focused and professional to make sure we get the results we need,” said McKinstry.
Regarding the west African giants Mali, McKinstry referred them as a strong youth side that is unpredictable however Uganda Cranes will use the experience to overcome them. “Mali are very interesting opponents who are so unpredictable with young and talented players, so we just need to make sure we use our experience to get the results we want from them,” added McKinstry, who is eager to face his former side Rwanda. Uganda Cranes has played against Mali two times in history.
The first was in 2016 during CHAN Finals in Rwanda and the 2017 AFCON finals in Gabon. Both matches ended in 2-2 and 1-1 draws respectively. Uganda Cranes forward Farouk Miya has scored twice against Mali in the last two meetings.
Joseph Ochaya is the other player who has a goal against Mali. In the same vein, Uganda Cranes has played against Kenya in qualifiers twice and the two games in 2012 AFCON Qualifiers ended in goalless draw home and away.
Kenya and Uganda settled for a 1-1 draw in an International Friendly last year with Emmanuel Okwi scoring for Uganda before Kenneth Muguna equalized for the home side. In the same way, Uganda last played Rwanda during the 2017 CHAN qualifiers and the Cranes won 3-0 at home before Rwanda managed a 2-0 victory in Kigali.In AFCON Qualifiers, Uganda played Rwanda in 2013 –drawing 1-1 away in Rwanda and losing the return leg 1-0 in Kampala.
It will be the first time Uganda, Mali, Kenya, and Rwanda playing each other in World Cup Qualifiers. Group stage qualifiers will run for one year; from October 2020 till October 2021, while the knockout phase will happen in November 2021. The teams were placed in ten groups at this qualification round and the top ten qualify to the next stage. The top five nations at the next stage qualify to the finals in Qatar in 2022.