Home Others Uganda Hockey Cranes to brave 2,500km on road to honour games in Zambia

Uganda Hockey Cranes to brave 2,500km on road to honour games in Zambia

by Kityo Kalira
4 minutes read

The men and women’s national hockey teams leave in the wee hours of Monday morning for Zambia ahead of the June 7-9 Zambezi Series.

The Hockey Cranes and She Cranes will brave about 2,500km on the road from Lugogo to Lusaka, through Tanzania, for the tri-nation series that has also attracted national teams from Zambia and Malawi.

The teams have had focused training sessions at the National Hockey Stadium in Lugogo over the last two weeks under the guidance of coaches Vincent Arnold Kasasa (men) and Moses Nsereko (women).

The Hockey Cranes have avoided Zambia in the last two continental events namely; the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana and the African Olympic Qualifiers in South Africa last year.

“In 2011 and 2012, I trained with the national team twice but we did not go anywhere,” Kasasa said at the flag off ceremony that was officiated by National Council of Sports (NCS) assistant general secretary David Ssemakula Katende.

“At some point we lost hope. So it was always my wish that one day we get to represent our country and I am so happy that NCS has enabled us to reach this far,” Kasasa, who will be handling the team for a third tournament out of the recent four, said.

Coach Kasasa has named nine of the players that represented Uganda at the two tournaments, among whom are; captain Emmanuel Baguma and his deputies Jordan Mpiima and Solomon Mutalya. Innocent Raskara and Charles Ekapolon who were part of the side that played the Bi-nation Series in Kenya in 2021 are also back.

There are also places for national team debutants Brian Ofoyimungu, Elias Okello, Elvis Opoya, Innocent Tumukunde, Jackson Musinguzi, Jordan Achaye and 17 year old Shafic Abdul.

“This is a great opportunity for exposure and to increase our participation in international games, especially for the young players. Hopefully, by the end of the year and when we get to the Africa Cup, we shall be able to win the competitive games,” Baguma said.

Hockey She Cranes Seek Revenge

The Hockey She Cranes, on the other hand, will be motivated by the chance to settle a score as they lost 2-1 to Zambia at the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations.

Thuwaibah Kiggundu, who scored Uganda’s consolation and lone goal in the tournament, is among the six returnees from the 2022 squad that also include captain Norah Alum. Carol Aguti, who also went to Kenya 2021, returns too but coach Nsereko is set to hand out 11 debuts.

“This will be the third time that the Hockey She Cranes leave to represent the country and we are grateful to Uganda Hockey Association and National Council of Sports (NCS) for the opportunity.”

“Unfortunately, we did not go to the Olympic Qualifiers last year but we will use the Zambezi Series to prepare for future tournaments,” Nsereko said.

Assistant captains Hildah Star Balondemu and Rachael Atim join Anitah Atim, Evas Akello, Hajarah Namwase, Irene Atim, Melissa Namuleme, Vanessa Abeja, Vero Atima, Winnie Atim and 18 year old defender Winnie Nandi among those expecting to earn their first cap in the upcoming tournament.

“We are not only going to participate but to make a difference. We want to return home with a trophy so we are seen in a different state,” Alum said.

The contingent will be led by UHA president Philip Wafula, who believes this young team is the foundation block for the dream to play at the 2026 World Cup.

Men’s Squad

Charles Ekapolon, Richard Kaijuka

Outfield players:
Alfred Agaba, Brian Bayuule, Brian Okodi, Brian Ofoyimungu, Elias Okello, Elvis Opoya, Emmanuel Baguma (captain), Innocent Raskara, Innocent Tumukunde, Jackson Musinguzi, Jordan Achaye, Jordan Mpiima (assistant captain), Maxwell Mugisha, Shafic Abdul, Solomon Mutalya (second assistant captain), Stewart Kavuma

Coach: Vincent Arnold Kasasa
Assistant Coach: Bernard Bwire
Team Manager: Byron Matovu
Physio: Joseph Segane

Women’s Squad

Goalkeepers: Hajarah Namwase, Melissa Namuleme

Outfield players: Anitah Atim, Carol Aguti, Evas Akello, Hildah-Star Balondemu (assistant captain), Irene Atim, Joy Sserunjogi, Lucky Akello, Margaret Nassiwa, Norah Alum (captain), Rachael Atim (second assistant captain), Thuwaibah Kiggundu, Vanessa Abeja, Vero Atima, Winnie Alaro, Winnie Atim, Winnie Nandi

Coach: Moses Nsereko
Assistant Coach: Martin Okello
Team Manager: Bridget Baine
Physio: Desire Mukisa
Goalkeeping Coach: Dulf Musoke
Team doctor: Emmanuel Ewochu
Kit manager: Joshua Masawi
Assistant kit manager: Paul Kayanga
Tournament Appeals Jury member: Philip Wafula
Umpires Manager: Stanley Tamale
Technical Officials: Richard Ssemwogerere, Daniel Kyaligonza
Umpires: Kenneth Tamale, Rooney Aheebwe
Media officers: Makhtum Muziransa, James Mugisha

Courtesy Photos

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