CHAN is 'the most scouted tournament in the world' for young talent

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Uganda coach Johnny McKinstry has talked up the advantages of the African Nations Championship for the continent's home-based players, ahead of the Cranes' CHAN opener against neighbours Rwanda on Monday.

The biennial tournament, exclusively for players who currently ply their trade in their own nation's domestic league, represents an opportunity for local stars to test their mettle in a continental context and against Africa's finest home-based players.

The tournament, essentially for a country's second string, has proven to be a rich hunting ground for heads of recruitment, player agents, and scouts from around the world, and McKinstry believes it's an invaluable opportunity for African players.

"I've been told before by CAF that the CHAN is the most scouted tournament in the world, in terms of the credentials that get handed out to scouts, agents, for tournaments across the world," McKinstry told ESPN, "so it's a really great opportunity.

"[The CHAN is] a really interesting and unique approach that CAF have taken to promote the exposure of domestic talent across Africa," he added.

"It gives the opportunity for players playing domestically in the African leagues which maybe don't have as much exposure."

In the past, the likes of Yves Bissouma, Shehu Abdullahi, Nayef Aguerd and El Arbi Hillel Soudani moved to Europe on the back of strong CHAN performances, while Real Valladolid and Morocco defender Jawad El Yamiq was recruited by Genoa in the midst of the Atlas Lions' run to the final in 2018.

"Not all domestic African leagues have television contracts or have games being played online etc," McKinstry continued, "and so CHAN is a great opportunity for those boys.

"[They can] represent their country at a continental level against some of the best countries in Africa, but it also puts them in [the view of] clubs all around the world to see that talent and get access to it in a very straightforward way."

Cranes players will be aware of the opportunity that the CHAN represents, with several members of Sebastien Desabre's 2018 squad subsequently going on to bigger and better things after impressing for the East Africans in Morocco.

Of that squad, Milton Karisa, Nelson Senkatuka and Muhammad Shaban all secured moves to Morocco, Derrick Nsibambi, Taddeo Lwanga and Allan Kyambadde moved to Egypt, while Moses Waiswa is currently in South Africa's PSL with SuperSport United.

The biggest success story is centre-back Timothy Awany, who now represents FC Ashdod in the Israeli Premier League and has become a key figure in the Cranes' senior side.

"Football has been growing in Uganda over the last 10-15 years," McKinstry continued, "and we've seen the senior men's national team reach the last two editions of the Africa Cup of Nations.

"This is the fifth edition in a row that Uganda will play at the CHAN itself so it's an opportunity to create that steady conveyor belt of talent rising to the top level of world football, and that can only be good for Ugandan football as a whole."

The East Africans begin their campaign with a regional derby against Rwanda in Douala on Monday evening.