KAMPALA, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) -- Football remains Uganda's most followed sport and 2017 has had a mark on the country's football history.
The country's participation in this Africa Nations Cup in Gabon after 39 years of waiting reignited the love for the sport. The tournament brings together the continent's best 16 teams and Uganda was one of them, representing the East and Central part of Africa.
Although Uganda lost in the tournament to giants Egypt and Ghana and managed to draw with Mali, it was an indication that East African football rating had improved.
This year, Uganda also made it to the group stage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification. Uganda finished second behind Egypt who qualified.
The national team (local based players) also ejected South Sudan and Rwanda to qualify for the 2018 Africa Nations Championship.
To sum it up, Uganda ranks the best country in the Council for East and Central African Football Associations (Cecafa) region.
According to the latest rankings by FIFA, Uganda has slipped to 75th place worldwide but top in the Cecafa region.
Edgar Watson, Chief Executive Officer of Uganda's FA told Xinhua in a recent interview attributed the improvement to the federation's hard work.
The country has had many international friendlies that increased the team' s exposure. Government also picked interest in funding some of the national team' s friendlies.
"Uganda Cranes is a fantastic team and is a force to reckon with on the continent at the moment," Kalusha Bwalya, chairman of the technical committee of the Confederation of African Football told Xinhua early this month.
The east African country hopes to sail further in 2018. The country is expected to name a new coach ahead of the 2018 Africa Nations Championship to take place in Morocco.
Uganda's minister of state for sports, Charles Bakkabulindi told in a recent interview that the FA has forwarded to him four names to select a national coach after vetting over 90 coaches both foreign and local.
The final four include French born Desabrie Sabastian, Emilio Ferrera (Belgium) and former Rwanda and Sierra Leone coach John Mckinstry and Uganda's Moses Basena who is now in charge of the team on an interim basis.
"This time we decided the government gets involved in the recruitment because we shall pay a good percentage of the wages," said Bakkabulindi.
The previous national coach Milutin Sredojevic resigned his job after the failure of the FA to pay his salary and allowance arrears amounting to 54,000 US dollars.
Analysts have argued that the increased interest by government to fund the national team is one of the ways that is likely to increase the team's performance. The FA has been struggling to raise finances to manage the team.
The FA has also signed football development partnerships with the Morocco Football Federation. This move is expected to improve the performance of the national team.