Absa Premiership

Onyango finds positives in early AFCON exit

2017-01-24 08:53
Denis Onyango (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Mamelodi Sundowns keeper Denis Onyango believes Uganda's experiences at the Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon could be of great benefit in the future.

The Cranes, taking part in their first continental showpiece in 39-years, play their final match of the tournament when they tackle Mali on Wednesday.

With no points on the board in Group D, they will be going home no matter the result.

However, despite this, the east African side have acquitted themselves well in Gabon, and made African powerhouses Ghana and Egypt both work very hard for their 1-0 victories.

Onyango, who became the first goalkeeper to win CAF's Player of the Year - Based in Africa award, and was also instrumental in Sundowns winning the CAF Champions League, has managed to find several positives from the Crane's campaign.

Not least of which is the fact that they will also face both Ghana and Egypt in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

The Pharaohs battled for their victory over Uganda on Saturday night, surviving a spirited Cranes performance including a second half goal which was ruled off-sides, before scoring an 89th minute winner.

The Black Stars failed to net against the Cranes in open play and needed a penalty from Andre Ayew to secure victory.

"This AFCON was good for the guys because we still have to play Ghana and Egypt in the World Cup qualifiers," Onyango was quoted saying by the Star.

"We have seen the way they play the game and how tactical they are. We believe this will help us in the coming games because we are playing Egypt next.

"It's very important for us to stay focused, who knows Uganda might be at the World Cup. You must believe. Playing in the World Cup with the national team is the only thing that's now missing from my career."

There has been talk that Uganda coach Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic is set to replace Ghana boss Avram Grant after the Nations Cup, although Onyango has pleaded for the former Orlando Pirates coach to stay.

"He brought us here after 39 years of trying a lot of different coaches who couldn't do this," said the 31-year-old.

"For me, he has done his part. We lacked experience here, which is how we lost to Ghana and Egypt. We weren't outplayed. We held our own against two good teams in Africa.

"He is the right man for the job, hopefully we keep him. But if he moves on, that's part of football. I think that he has done well for Uganda."

Onyango will be looking to play a crucial role for Sundowns when the league resumes with a fixture against Bloemfontein Celtic at the Dr Molemela Stadium on February 8.

Kick off is at 19:30.

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