Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT & URN | Soccer governing body FUFA has ended the contract of Uganda Cranes coach Milutin Micho Sredojević days after failing to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations.
According to a statement released by FUFA on Thursday, both parties had reached a mutual agreement to terminate the contract.
“Today, Thursday 14th September 2023, FUFA and Mr. Milutin Sredojevic agreed to mutually end the existing employment contract between the two parties. FUFA appreciates all efforts and commitment by Mr. Milutin during his period as Head coach of Uganda Cranes,” FUFA said in a statement..
The termination comes barely two weeks after Uganda Cranes failed to qualify for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations after finishing third in their group.
Micho who previously led Uganda Cranes to the 2017 AFCON after a nearly four-decade absence from the continental championship, was reappointed in 2021 on a three-year term contract after the Federation parted ways with former Cranes Chief, Jonathan McKinstry.
Previously, Uganda Cranes fans had high hopes that the team’s back-to-back qualifications would become a regular achievement.
However, their inability to secure a spot in the 2021 edition, despite a strong start in the qualifiers, raised concerns and strained the relationship between FUFA and Jonathan McKinstry, ultimately leading to Micho’s appointment with hopes that he would replicate what he achieved back in 2016.
Unfortunately, Micho’s return failed to yield the desired results. Uganda Cranes struggled to make a significant impact in the just-concluded AFCON qualification tournament, managing only two wins in six games, which placed their return to AFCON in jeopardy.
Uganda Cranes finished in third place with seven points, falling just one point short of the Taifa Stars, who secured their spot as group runners-up with eight points. Algeria topped the group with an impressive sixteen points while Niger finished last with two points.
Throughout his tenure as the Cranes’ head coach, Micho had frequently come under scrutiny for his style of play and tactical choices, which were often perceived as outdated.
Critics accused him of adopting a more defensive approach, overloading the team with defenders, resulting in players being played out of their natural positions and restricting attack-minded players to defensive roles.
Additionally, Micho faced criticism for persisting with older players like Emmanuel Okwi and Farouk Miya, among others, and recalling players who had been absent from the national team setup for an extended period, often at the expense of emerging talents.
This once ignited a social media campaign back in June after the loss to Tanzania, as several Cranes fanatics started a hashtag, #Michoout, but, the FUFA President then said that they would keep the Serbian coach and assess his performance at the end of the AFCON qualification campaign to make a final decision.
But, while several pundits were castigating Micho, former Uganda Cranes player and assistant captain Hassan Wasswa Mawanda held a different perspective. The former midfielder who was also employed as a center-back player recently told Uganda Radio Network that many players are not giving their best to the team, unlike those who were part of the successful 2016 qualification campaign.
Meanwhile, Micho’s exit comes barely two months before Uganda Cranes start the 2026 World Cup Qualifiers Campaign which will start with an away clash against Guinea in November 2023 according to the fixtures that were recently released.
However, navigating the World Cup qualifiers proves to be an even more formidable challenge, as it demands sheer excellence, with just the group leader earning the coveted ticket to the global spectacle, in stark contrast to the AFCON qualifiers, where both the group leader and the runner-up secure their places on the grand continental stage.