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Uganda Cranes land fair group in AFCON Qualifiers


Uganda Cranes coach Paul Joseph Put believes the Cranes landed in a fair group following the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying draw held on Thursday in Johannesburg.

Put’s side were drawn against top seeds South Africa, Congo Brazzaville and northern neighbours South Sudan in Group K.

Speaking after the draw, Put sounded optimistic about his side’s chances to make Uganda’s first Afcon finals since Egypt 2019.

“I think it’s a fair group,” said Put, “there are no easy games but I think it’s playable but of course you can not (under)estimate anything.”

Uganda last faced South Africa in a major qualifier during the 2006 World Cup qualifiers.

Then, on October 10, 2004, a Benni McCarthy penalty condemned the Cranes to a 1-0 defeat before the Bafana Bafana completed a double in Johannesburg. 

Neighbours South Sudan will also be remembered for all but ending Uganda’s qualification to the 2021 Afcon finals after they beat the Cranes 1-0 in Nairobi. Uganda had earlier won by the same scoreline in Kitende.

Uganda and Congo Brazzaville last squared off in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, with the Cranes winning 1-0 in Kampala and drawing 1-1 away.

Meanwhile, coach Paul Put also called on Ugandans to support the team in huge numbers at their home matches just as they did during the 2026 World Cup qualifying games against Botswana and Algeria last month.

There are 12 groups of four teams each, with the top two in every pool qualifying for the 2025 finals tournament that will for the first time ever be played over the Christmas period and the New Year.

The 2025 Afcon finals will be played from December 21, 2025 to January 18, 2026 in Morocco after a controversial decision agreed upon by hosts Morocco, Caf and Fifa.

Teams will have to play two qualification matches every month starting this September to November. Uganda will be hoping to return to the Afcon finals for the first time in five years.

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