Striker Juliet Nalukenge and midfielder Sheebah Zalwango, have been handed starts as Crested Cranes head coach George Lutalo named the starting XI to face Ethiopia in the return leg of the second round of the 2022 AWCON Qualifier today at Abebe Bikila Stadium in Addis Ababa.
The two players were second half substitutes at St Mary’s stadium Kitende as Uganda beat Ethiopia 2-0 in the first leg, with Zalwango providing the assist to the second goal scored by Fauzia Najjemba.
The Cyprus based Nalukenge, who has been influential for the U20 side, scoring three goals as they eliminated Kenya, had flashes of brilliance and near misses at Kitende, and her versatility convinced Lutalo to hand her a starting role.
Riticia Nabbosa who scored the first goal but later limped off before the end of the first half, has recovered from the knock to return to the starting fold, this time playing behind the main striker.
Nalukenge’s inclusion means Iceland based Sandra Nabweteme starts on the bench while Nabbosa will operate in the position of Hasifa Nassuna who is also bench.
“All the players we have travelled with are equally important to the team and each of them is ready to play an important role whenever called upon,” Lutalo said.
Lutalo has not made any changes in the backline, with captain Ruth Aturo, retaining her position in goal while Sumaya Komuntale and Viola Namuddu are left and right full backs respectively. Shadia Nankya and Asia Nakibuuka are at the heart of defence.
Joan Nabirye has been retained in the holding role playing alongside Zalwango, while Margaret Kunihira and Fauzia Najjemba will offer support to Nalukenge upfront.
The winner on aggregate between Uganda and Ethiopia will play Kenya at the next level.
Ruth Aturo (1) (C), (GK)
Viola Namuddu (6)
Laki Otandeka (16)