KAMPALA Goalkeeper Denis Onyango, voted the best African-based player of 2016, will spearhead Uganda's assault on the African Nations Cup title following the announcement of their squad for the finals on Thursday.
Uganda, returning to the finals in Gabon after an absence of almost four decades, will take inspiration from their 29-year-old keeper, who helped Mamelodi Sundowns, of South Africa, win the African Champions League in October.
His performances saw Onyango crowned as the Confederation of African Football's best player based in the continent on Thursday at an awards ceremony in Abuja.
Onyango's achievements had already seen him named Uganda's Footballer of the Year and he is among 18 foreign-based players from an eclectic mix of countries in the 23-man squad, including Iceland, Lebanon, Finland, Vietnam and the USA.
Uganda last played at the Nations Cup in 1978 when they finished runners-up. They make their return in Group D and start in Port Gentil on Jan. 17 against Ghana.
Squad: Goalkeepers: Salim Jamal Magoola (Al-Merreikh, Sudan), Robert Odongkara (St George, Ethiopia), Denis Onyango (Mamelodi Sundowns, South Africa) Defenders: Timothy Awany (Kampala Capital City Authority, Uganda), Shafiq Batambuze (Tusker FC, Kenya), Denis Iguma (Al Ahed, Lebanon), Isaac Isinde (St George, Ethiopia), Murshid Juuko (Simba, Tanzania), Joseph Ochaya (Kampala Capital City Authority, Uganda), Nicholas Wadada (Vipers SC, Uganda), Godfrey Walusimbi (Gor Mahia, Kenya), Hassan Wasswa (Al Nijmeh, Lebanon) Midfielders: Khalid Aucho (Baroka FC, South Africa), Mike Azira (Colorado Rapids, USA), Geoffrey Kizito (Than Quang Ninh, Vietnam), William Luwagga Kizito (Rio Ave, Portugal), Tony Mawejje (Throttur Reykjavik, Iceland), Moses Oloya (Ha Noi, Vietnam) Forwards: Geoffrey Massa (Baroka FC, South Africa), Farouk Miya (Standard Liege, Belgium), Yunus Sentamu (Ilves Tampere, Finland), Mohammed Shaban (Onduparaka, Uganda), Geoffrey Sserunkuma (Kampala Capital City Authority, Uganda).
(Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Ian Chadband)