The Northern Irish tactician reveals why the young players made the cut ahead of the Afcon double-header

Uganda coach Johnathan McKinstry has defended his decision to keep forward Karim Watambala in the Cranes squad to face South Sudan.

On Tuesday, the Northern Irish tactician whittled down his squad of local-based players from 20 to seven, and Watambala, who turns out for Vipers SC in the Ugandan Premier League (UPL), was among those who made the cut.

Some of the players who were left out include the experienced trio of Tonny Mawejje, Denis Iguma, and Murushid Jjuuko, who were handed a recall to the national team despite staying out of action for almost a year each.

The players who made the final cut alongside Watambala include goalkeeper Charles Lukwago, defenders Halid Lwaliwa, Disan Galiwango, and Patrick Mbowa as well as midfielders Shafik Kagimu, and forward Brian Aheebwa.

According to McKinstry, Watambala is one player who attracts anybody’s eye because of his great intensity, real force, and positivity he exhibits while playing.

“Some of the reasons we were attracted to Karim is that he plays with great intensity, Karim attracts everyone’s eye because he does everything with force and positivity,” McKinstry told the Fufa website.

“He is really hungry to learn and improve. We have worked with him for the past six months and he gas made step by step progress.

“He is still young who will make mistakes but in general he is moving in the right direction. There’s no doubt that he deserves to be in the squad and I also think he can learn so much because of the exposure to experienced players like Khalid Aucho, Mike Azira, Emmanuel Okwi from whom he can learn so much from them and that can help him improve further.”

McKinstry has also revealed that he will not put much pressure on the player by explaining: “We can’t put much pressure on Karim [Watambala] because he is still young. I have worked with young players of Karim’s age and helped their transition to professional games. We have to be patient, supportive, and understand that he will make mistakes thus help and guide him through.”

Watambala started his football journey with Blessed Soccer Academy under Coach Isingoma and Town view Primary School all in Mbale, he also played for Vipers and helped them to win the UPL crown in the 2019/2020 season.

Uganda will host South Sudan in the first meeting on November 12 at St Mary’s Stadium Kitende (16:00) before they face off again five days later in Kenya

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