Uganda Cranes head coach Jonathan McKinstry believes Western African side, Mali will be a tough opponent and expects tricky encounters when the two sides face off.
Uganda and Mali were pitted in group E of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers alongside neighbours Kenya and Rwanda in the draw held on Tuesday in Cairo, Egypt.
McKinstry believes Mali have a very strong team given the fact that they have doing well with their junior national team set ups in recent years.
“Mali are a very interesting opponent, I think people might look and say out of the top ten teams in Africa, they’re ranked 9th and so they would think they are one of the lower ranked top seeds we got but Mali are unpredictable because if you look at the junior sides, they won AFCON U-17 in 2015 and 2017, they then won the AFCON U-20 in 2019. So they have a very talented young team.” He said while speaking to FUFA TV.
The Irishman asserts that Mali’s focus on the youth teams could soon pay off and predicts they will the best team in Africa in the next five years.
“When you’ve got young players, consistency, unpredictability these are things you expect of a young squad but there is no doubt and I said this to some people before the draw that Mali could well be the team for the next five years. So we just have got to make sure we use our experience in those games to get the results against a young and talented team but we can’t take them for granted.”
The last time Uganda and Mali faced off was at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations with the game ending in a one-all draw.
The top teams in each of the ten groups will progress to the final qualifying phase where the best five teams will represent Africa at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.