Uganda Cranes head coach Johnathan McKinstry remains a busy party as he plans for the national team despite the COVID-19 lockdown period.
In the latest interview with www.fufa.co.ug on Thursday, he shares his plans and the thoughts about the decision by CAF to change the TOTAL CHAN 2020 to January 2020 as well as the extension of TOTAL AFCON 2021 to 2022.
Question: CAF has finally announced the new dates of the CHAN Finals 2020 and AFCON 2021. How much is this a relief to you as head of technical matters in the Cranes?
McKinstry: The confirmation by CAF of the CHAN Tournament for January 2021 is a relief to the players. The players were more concerned and worried that this tournament could be called off because if you looked at the schedule, it was a challenge to see where it could be fixed. Now the tournament is only six months away. This is really close. Everyone is refocused, re-energized and hungry to go. The Star Times Uganda Premier League kicks off in October 2020 and the players are really ready. We as the technical team are also looking forward and putting together some plans. Hopefully, CECAFA 2020 will be happening and this will help in the preparations. The players are staff are now motivated with more energy.
Question: No football for now and you have just 6 months until January 2021 for CHAN Finals. Do you have any special and designed plans for the team?
McKinstry: The players have been given special pre-season training scheduled. The programs have been sent to them, quite different from the ones in the COVID-19 period because anytime we expected football to return soon.
We hope to have six weeks of competitive football before the training camp will be summoned for the CHAN 2021 finals.
Question: How tough is it for you as a coach to be in such suspense and let alone to reignite the players’ moods to get back on the pitch and play football?
McKinstry: It has been really challenging but as a coach, there has been hope and planning never stops. Everyone was frustrated with no football but it is two-sided; the supporter, player, or coach. Everyone was frustrated that football was not happening. I am a little bit jealous that my colleagues in Europe are involved in what they love to do best but hopefully, this frustration will be converted to energy when football returns.
Question: The Qualifiers for both AFCON and World Cup 2022 will be played this year and spread into the new year 2021. This seems to be a demanding time for you and the Federation. Do you have any idea about the kind of players to use for these Qualifiers?
McKinstry: The Uganda Cranes players are hungry to get back to AFCON and play at the FIFA World Cup. We are all hungry for football to resume. Selection will purely be down to it will be down to player performance. There is a wide pool of players to think about and select; these are players in the domestic league, in the diaspora league, and those of Ugandan heritage playing elsewhere. If u want to put on the treasured Uganda Cranes shirt, you have to be on top of your game. There is need for continuous assessment of the players, monitoring all and they must maintain that high performance. The wider the pool of players, the more competition it brings to the team, the more competition, the better the 11 we shall have to produce. Uganda is a football-loving country. Fine, the supporters have been frustrated with no football action but let us turn this frustration into positive energy. Remember the fans are part of this beautiful journey.