Coach Khalifa Pushes for Back-to-Front Play in U-20 World Cup Qualifiers

Coach Khalifa Pushes for Back-to-Front Play in U-20 World Cup Qualifiers

As preparations for the 2024 World Cup qualifiers intensify, Uganda’s U-20 women’s national team, the Queen Cranes, is placing a strong emphasis on building their play from the back and effectively connecting with the strikers. The Queen Cranes, who earned a bye in the first round of qualifiers are scheduled to face Mozambique in the second qualifying phase.

The campaign begins with an away match in Mozambique on October 7, 2023, at Campo da ABB-Matola stadium for the first leg, followed by a home match on October 13, 2023, at FUFA Technical Centre, Njeru, for the return leg. Head Coach Ayubu Khalifa Kiyingi, who took over the role in June 2023, is working diligently to showcase his coaching abilities to the officials at the local soccer governing body’s headquarters in Mengo.

Preparations for the U-20 team accelerated after the senior national team, the Crested Cranes, were eliminated from the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers by Algeria. Khalifa, who had temporarily overseen the Crested Cranes due to the absence of a head coach returned to Njeru with a new group of U-20 players to intensify preparations for the World Cup qualifiers, with the team training diligently for the past week.

After Sunday’s training session, Coach Kiyingi emphasized the importance of improving departmental connections within the team. Specifically, they are working on the backline’s connection with the midfield to create more scoring opportunities for the strikers. Additionally, the coaching staff is conducting drills to enhance the strikers’ scoring rate, a crucial aspect in competing against other African powerhouses.

The winner on aggregate between Uganda and Mozambique after the two legs will advance to face either Senegal or Benin in the third round in November. The qualification process stipulates that the top two teams after the third and fourth rounds will secure tickets to represent Africa in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.

In the previous edition of the qualifiers, Uganda was eliminated by Ghana in the third round with a 7-1 aggregate score after two legs. Uganda lost 2-1 at St Mary’s Stadium in Kitende and was defeated 5-0 at the Cape Coast Stadium a week later.

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