Seventeen skilled hockey players who represented Uganda at the Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana last year are about to take on a new challenge. They are heading to South Africa for the Paris 2024 Olympic qualifiers in Pretoria, where they hope to secure a spot at the Olympics for the first time.
This morning, the captain of the Ugandan hockey team, Emmanuel Baguma, spoke to Premier Sport on NBS Sport to shed light on their preparations and aspirations.
Baguma expressed confidence, stating that the team is fully prepared for the grueling qualifiers. “We’ve been working tirelessly to reach this stage, and our focus is sharper than ever,” he emphasized. “Our squad is a blend of experience and young talents, making us a formidable force.”
Uganda Hockey men’s team are in Pool A, alongside hosts South Africa, Zimbabwe and Nigeria. Men’s Pool B has Zambia, Ghana, Egypt and Kenya. According to Captain Baguma, one of the most exciting aspects for the team is facing South Arica and Nigeria that according to Baguma are the best in the continent. The Nigeria match in particular holds significance as Uganda has never crossed paths with the West African giants in recent Hockey history. Baguma acknowledges the uniqueness of this encounter and views it as a thrilling prospect.
Emmanuel will be joined by Italy based Jordan Mpiima, a defensive stalwart who played every minute of the Ghana campaign for Kampala Hockey Club (KHC) ,dynamic Alfred Agaba, striker Brian Bayuule, Martin Okello, Richard Semwogerere, Bosco Ochan, Stewart Kavuma and Richard Kaijuka among others that were carefully selected by newly appointed Head Coach Innocent Raskara.
The tournament is expected to run from 29th October to 5th November 2023 in Pretoria at Tuks Astro University where the winner will qualify or the 4 Summer Olympics.