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Last-gasp defeat hard to accept for Uganda coach

Uganda’s players react at the end of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations group D football match between Egypt and Uganda in Port-Gentil on January 21, 2017. AFP PHOTO

Port-Gentil, Gabon | AFP | 

Uganda coach Milutin Sredojevic admitted the way in which his side were knocked out of the Africa Cup of Nations with a last-gasp defeat to Egypt on Saturday was a crushing blow.

“We tried our best but unfortunately it was not enough,” said “Micho” after Abdallah El Said’s 89th-minute strike, from a Mohamed Salah assist, gave Egypt a 1-0 win in the Group D encounter in Port-Gentil.

“This level of competition demands total focus of concentration on details that decide games.

“We couldn’t keep that concentration up to the last moment — when we were supposed to close the game out we allowed a counterattack and the experience and quality of Salah made the difference.”

The result left Uganda bottom of the group without a point or a goal after a previous 1-0 loss to Ghana, and their first appearance at the Cup of Nations since 1978 will stop at the group stage.

“We have come after 39 years and paid for the lesson in a hard way. If you lose in a convincing way you accept it, but in this way it is very hard to accept.

“We came here to play three Cup finals — the first we lost on a penalty to Ghana and the second we lost in the last minute on the counterattack.”

Uganda will now only have pride to play for in their last game, against Mali on Wednesday.

“Now we need to pick up the pieces and look forward in order to see who will play the last game — it is hard to say who will play in the last game, we have certain injuries like (goalkeeper Denis) Onyango.

“We will see how we play the last match but the ambition remains that we want to go home with pride and with a win.”

Total Man of the Match
Abdullah El Said (Egypt)

Hector Cuper 

I think all the groups are complicated not only ours. We had a difficult game against a very tough opponent. Our qualification is not guaranteed yet, so we have to fight till the end.
At the Africa Cup of Nations every match is difficult. I wished to have a bigger scoreline and better performance but I thank my players who did all their best in tough circumstances. I respect Uganda and commend them for their performance today. Every game has its own strategy and we always adjust our plans to our opponents. Abdullah El Said deserves the Man of the Match award. Our target for every game is to win, so it’s accepted to make some risk but not in an irrational way.

Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic 
It was a moment of experience that made the difference. I want to thank my players who gave their best and made their people proud. We came here to play three finals, we lost to Ghana by a penalty, lost to Egypt in the last minute and our ambition is to win against Mali and return home with pride.
At this level of competition, we have to be focused at the maximum level. I believe we were perfect on the tactical aspect, but we couldn’t keep our concentration till the last moment. We played against a very good and talented team. We are coming back after 39-years and we are learning lessons and gaining experience but in a very hard way.

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