Uganda will kick off their campaign to Qatar in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers withan away game against regional rivals Kenya on September 2.
The East African rivals are pooled together in Group E of the qualifiers alongside West African giants Mali and Rwanda with the top team set to qualify for the third qualifying round.
Both nations have never reached the final of the competition and Kenya will be seeking to make it under coach Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee while Uganda are handled by Serbian Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic, who made a return to the team on July 27, after parting ways with Zambia.
Kenya have not had enough preparations heading into the game as they only regrouped four days ago, and coach Mulee will bank on experienced players in his squad to beat their neighbours in the ‘Migingo derby.’
The 53-year-old named a squad of 36 players minus captain Victor Wanyama, who turns out for CF Montreal in Major League Soccer, defender Joash Onyango of Tanzania’s Simba SC, midfielder Johanna Omollo of Turkish side BB Erzurumspor, and winger Ayub Timbe formerly of Vissel Kobe in Japan.
While Kenya have not played a friendly heading into the fixture, Uganda managed a build-up fixture against Ethiopia on Sunday losing 2-1 at the Bahir-Dar International Stadium.
The friendly saw Sredojevic hand midfielder Khalid Aucho his first start after months out of national team action and he also tested some of his players, among them Ibrahim Orit, Yunus Sentamu, Charles Lukwago, Abdu Lumala, Enock Walusimbi, and Ismail Watenga.
In the last six matches between the two nations, Kenya have managed one win, Uganda have won twice while the other three have ended in draws.
The latest fixture between the two sides was a friendly in 2019 which ended in a 1-1 draw, and prior to that, they had also met in two friendlies ending in 1-1 and 0-0 draws.
Kenya’s only win against Uganda came in 2015 when the two sides were drawn in Group B of the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup and goals from Jacob Keli and Michael Olunga secured a vital 2-0 win for Harambee Stars at Addis Ababa Stadium in Ethiopia.
Meanwhile, Uganda’s two wins against Kenya in the last six outings came in 2012 during the Cecafa tournament as they beat Harambee Stars 2-1 at Nelson Mandela Stadium in Kampala and the other one was also a 1-0 win during the same competition.
The second match for Kenya in the qualifiers will be away to Rwanda on Tuesday, September 7 in Kigali before they travel to West Africa on October 6 to face Mali in Bamako.