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AFCON: Uganda Cranes still a team in transition – Coach Micho

Cranes captain Okwi against a Tanzanian player; Coach Micho said that the team is still in a transitional phase. Photo via @UgandaCranes

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Uganda Cranes Head Coach, Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic has said the defeat to Tanzania in the 2023 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers on Friday is reality that the team is still in a transitional phase..

The Taifa Stars of Tanzania shocked Uganda Cranes 1-0 in a Group F match of the qualifiers played at the Suez Canal Stadium in Ismailia, Egypt.

The Cranes hosted the Tanzanian team since CAF has not approved any Stadium in Uganda to host the qualifiers this year.

“We are a team in transition, and when you are a team in transition practically, you gradually introduce your boys to the highest level of football,” said Micho after the defeat to arch-rivals Tanzania.

Uganda Cranes suffered their second loss in the 2023 AFCON qualifiers, following a prior 2-0 defeat to Algeria nine months ago which puts them in a more precarious position with regards to their prospects of clinching a coveted spot in the continental showpiece.

In action, Micho who is often criticized for his defensive approach to the game stuck to his typical tactics and fielded a starting eleven that consisted of at least five defenders and two defensive midfielders Khalid Aucho and Siraje Sentamu.

The strategy, like many of Micho’s Cranes games, hampered Uganda Cranes creativity, and their only chance came in the 30th minute, but left-back converted winger Joseph Ochaya failed to capitalize on the little advantage they had.

In the second half, Micho made a tactical shift, responding with three youthful and more attack-minded substitutions; Ismail Mugulusi, Steven Sserwadda, and Richard Basangwa to bolster the team’s offensive capabilities, replacing Fahad Bayo, Farouk Miya, and Siraje Ssentamu.

However, despite the quick response by Coach Micho, his substitutes failed to turn the tide of the game and Tanzania ultimately clinched a much-needed victory, courtesy of a goal scored by Simon Msuva in the 68th minute.

The defeat has piled up more pressure on the Cranes’ technical team in their bid to guide the team back to the continental showpiece, a feat they last achieved in 2019. They remain at the bottom of the group standings, with only one point garnered from the three games played thus far. Conversely, Tanzania has climbed to the second position, having amassed four points.

The two teams will meet on 28th March 2023 for the return leg of the qualification hurdle in Dar es Salaam. Micho, despite the loss, remains optimistic, saying that the defeat has served to highlight the critical areas that require improvement if the Uganda Cranes are to successfully secure their place in the AFCON tournament

He pinpointed the team’s inefficiency in the attacking third, which he has emphasized as a key area that must be addressed before they face Tanzania in the return leg.



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