Coach McKinstry confident hosts will win Cecafa Challenge Cup
Rodgers Ndegwa in Kampala
Uganda Cranes head coach Jonathan McKinstry is confident his side will reach the finals of the ongoing Council for East and Central Africa Football Association (CECAFA) Senior Challenge Cup and eventually lift the trophy on home soil like they last did in 2012.
At the same time, Stars assistant coach Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno assured Kenyans of defending the trophy stating there is no big team for him. McKinstry, who has been in charge of Cranes for two months now after taking over the mantle from Sebastien Desabre, is desperate for a maiden trophy with the team that reached the knock-out stage of the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time in history in Egypt.
However, he thinks reigning champions Kenya pose the greatest threat to his ambitions, but believes home advantage would propel them to victory over Stars in case they met at the finals of the competition.
After seeing off a determined Eritrea 2-0 on Wednesday to book a semi-final ticket, the 34-year-old Irish tactician said his team was ready to go all the way and win the regional prize for a record 15th time.
“If we have to win this competition we have to beat the best teams and if Kenya proves to be the finest from the other side of the draw and we happen to meet them in the semi-final or in the final we will be ready for them,” said McKinstry, adding: “Even though we have qualified from the group, our priority is top performance.
We have one more group match to go, against Djibouti before we can think about the semis or who to meet in the final.”Meanwhile, ‘Zico’ Otieno said: “I don’t think that there is any big team in the tournament, we approach all our contests differently and plan our games according to the challengers.
I am sure that as a team we have what it takes to clinch the tournament regardless of any adversaries in both the semis and finals stages.”
McKinstry rested most of his first team players in their clash against Eritrea fielding only his captain Khalid Lwaliwa and Mustafa Kizza hoping the rested players will play a critical role in their upcoming three clashes if they reach the finals.
“From my understanding, to win this tournament is not only about playing well but been able to play well under the tight schedule.
We have players who played 180 minutes in the tournament before today’s match (Wednesday), and we tried as much as possible to avoid burning them out,” he said.