After their return from Jersey where Uganda failed to qualify for the next phase of the World Cup Qualifiers, the Uganda Cricket Cranes now shift attention to a continental showpiece.
Laurance Mahatlane and his boys started their non-residential training this week as part of the preparations for the upcoming T20 Africa Cup finals that are slated to take place in South Africa, next month.
The Challenge League B ended in a disappointing manner, but Mahatlane insists all that is forgotten now and the focus now turns to the continental showpiece.
“As a team, we’ve had a bit of time off and time to reflect. We take that on a chin, it happens and It’s part of the sport,” Mahatlane told NBS Sport.
“Now it’s about our next journey; it’s about where we’re going,” he added.
Ahead of that trip, Mahatlane has made some additions to the team with the inclusion of some youngsters including Ismail Munir, Joseph Baguma and Pascal Murungi, who captained the U-19 team at the U-19 World Cup in West Indies.
“It is exciting times with some young energy; some new faces that are coming into the group,” he explained.
“It’s really the boys that you’ve seen around. Those are the kids that will get their opportunities as we look to keep trying to build the depth.”
On how relevant the Africa Cup is to the team, Mahatlane said; “It is two folds. One is, it’s back to cricket for us and ensuring that we understand what T20 is because we’ve got five months to prepare for the World Cup Qualifiers.”
“Secondly, it is to try and give as much international experience and exposure to as many players as possible to make sure that we build good depth.”
The Africa Cup presents Uganda with an opportunity to improve their ICC ranking, but the ultimate goal remains to attain the ODI status, Cricket Cranes all-rounder Riazat Ali Shah insists.
“We have bigger goals that are for sure. We want to play in the World Cup, and get the ODI status,” Riazat Ali said.
“I know we have to wait two more years now, but still what we want to achieve, we will work towards attaining it.”
The Cricket Cranes captain Brian Masaba who is just returning from injury echoed the same: “To qualify for the world cup is definitely what we are looking at. It is a very real opportunity for us.”
“If we can do well at that qualifier, and go straight to the world cup, I think that will be a big boost for us.”
“The game hasn’t stopped. We failed to qualify for the 50 Over World Cup but that’s not the end of the road.”
“We’ve still got to go out there and do well, so the opportunities are there. It is just up to us to make sure that we grab them,” he continued.
In South Africa, Uganda will be placed in Group A alongside Ghana, Botswana and Mozambique.
The Cricket Cranes opening group game will be against Botswana on 15th September.