Port-Gentil, Gabon | AFP |
Uganda coach Milutin Sredojevic admitted that the occasion got to his players as they succumbed to a 1-0 defeat to Ghana in their first match back at the Africa Cup of Nations on Tuesday.
Thirty-nine years after losing to Ghana in the 1978 final, the Cranes made their comeback in the tournament in Port-Gentil but lost their Group D opener to a first-half Andre Ayew penalty.
“In 39 years we have not been there and in the first half we had an element of stage fright,” admitted Serbian coach Sredojevic after defender Isaac Isinde’s foul on Asamoah Gyan for the penalty proved decisive.
“We paid dearly for the mistake that is hard to explain. The experience of a great player allowed him to intercept and win the penalty that Ayew converted.
“At half-time we were fully aware that we are on the big stage. It needed man management and awakening of every player, injecting belief that we can play.
“We risked everything at the end but unfortunately it didn’t come our way.”
He added: “I believe our team has seen that our level of fitness acquired in preparation is enough for this competition but there are other aspects we need to correct.”
Uganda face record seven-time winners Egypt in their next outing at the same stadium on Saturday.
“No matter that the giants Egypt and Mali are in front of us, we still believe and we will give 200 percent in order to go further,” added the coach known as “Micho”.