'Kenya, Mali ideal opponents to push Uganda World Cup qualification dream' - Okello

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Allan Okello of Uganda Cranes vs Djibouti.
The Cranes are in the same group with the neighbours as well as Rwanda and the forward states the opponents are strong enough to challenge them

Uganda forward Allan Okello has stated Kenya and Mali will push their World Cup qualification campaign on.

The Cranes, Harambee Stars, Mali as well as Rwanda are in Group E of the qualifiers and the Paradou AC star said the fact that Kenya and the West African nation qualified for the previous African Cup of Nations tournament, means Uganda will face strong opponents who are ideal in pushing their World Cup dreams. 

"The good thing for Uganda is that it’s quite an even section. Mali qualified for the last Afcon, as did Kenya. Only Rwanda missed out on Egypt 2019. This group gives us a good chance of reaching the World Cup," Okello told Fifa.com.

"If we qualified for the World Cup, we’d make everyone in Uganda happy. Together we're going to do all we can to make that dream a reality.

"Our group opponents are strong. We’ve already faced Mali and Rwanda and know how good they are, so it won’t be easy to get out of this group."

But the former Kampala Capital City Authority star has warned that the focus must be on Afcon qualifiers before thinking of anything else. Uganda are set to play Burkina Faso and Malawi in the remaining qualifiers in March.

"Before thinking about qualifying for the World Cup, we have to first negotiate the qualifiers for the Africa Cup," Okello added.

"So, we have to work hard to ensure our participation in the continental championship and only then focus on the World Cup. That said, we’re all dreaming of reaching the finals."

Okello, who made his name at KCCA, a club he debuted for at the age of 16, pegs his hope on the ability of his teammates to secure both the Afcon and the World Cup tickets.

"I’m one of the younger internationals and there are a lot of very good players in the squad," he explained.

"We have a strong team and I’m proud to represent my country. This is a great opportunity for me and I’m lucky to be part of this adventure.

"I wouldn’t say that the team relies solely on me, because we’re a united group. If we work hard and everyone pulls in the same direction, then we’ll achieve our goals."

In 112 games for the 13-time Premier League winners, the forward managed to score 39 goals as he ended up attracting the interest of teams mainly from North Africa before he chose to sign for Paradou AC, a club he has described as his gateway to Europe.

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"It's a great springboard to make a name for yourself abroad. Just in the last two years, the club has sold three players to European sides, and so I’m working hard to be among the next ones to go there," he hoped.

"The Algerian championship is really very professional, unlike what I've experienced before. It allows you to evolve very quickly and can open doors to European football."

Uganda's squad for Afcon qualifiers has already been named and Okello is among the summoned stars.