To many Ugandans, it was a surprise losing to Congo Brazzaville but whoever followed my articles, I predicted such would happen to the lovely Cranes. The only positive from the game was a precious away goal which am confident will play a vital role in our progress to the second round as it will be difficult for the Congolese to survive at the Fortress that is Mandela Stadium, Namboole. Despite my prediction, I didn’t share with you my reasons for such a doomed prediction but here are the reasons we lost terribly.
It has become a norm for the Cranes to have inadequate preparations for away games. Perhaps it’s the reason
we always perform badly away from home having won just once in a decade. Surprisingly, the only game we won was when we had intensive preparation that included camping away in Senegal as we were going to battle Guinea Bissau. Can you imagine the team had only four training sessions prior to the game? Given we had lost three key players to retirement, the team should have held so many sessions to see how that void could be filled.
Untimely retirement of David Obua, Ibrahim Ssekagya and Nestroy Kizito:
The trio has been part of the national team for the past decade thus it’s no easy feat to replace them instantly. Uganda is known for not conceding many goals whether away or home but yesterday it did happen. This points to how important Ibrahim Ssekagya and Nestroy Kizito have been to the stability of Cranes rear guard. Their absence was solely missed but we have to move on.
Poor team selection and tactics:
There is no doubt Bobby Williamson got it wrong this time in Congo Brazzaville, something that cost the team. In the first instance, he fielded Proline defender Henry Kalungi in partnership with Andy Mwesigwa to the surprise of many followers of the national team. In my opinion, Isaac Isinde or Hassan Wasswa should have got a nod ahead of Kalungi. Not that he is a bad player but has less experience as compared to the two and starting a game of this magnitude was bound to increase the pressure on the boy. It indeed showed as he nervously fouled in the first minute and latter deflected a ball into his own net to give Congo an early lead.
Secondly, it was a mistake fielding Hassan Wasswa in central midfield instead of Musa Mudde or Patrick Ochan alongside Tony Mawejje. The argument for that was to try out a defensive approach since we were playing away but the tried and trusted pairing of Mudde and Mawejje should have done better in my opinion.
Thirdly, no one doubts the goal scoring potential of Geoffrey Sserunkuma but in playing a defensive game, Bobby should have started with either the mobile Brian Umony or Emma Okwi instead of the ever static Sserunkuma. The latter is more important and favored in an offensive game approach yet all signs show that the Cranes went for a defensive game by fielding six typical defenders in Andy Mwesigwa, Henry Kalungi, Godfrey Walusimbi, Simon Masaba, Hassan Wasswa ( midfield) and Habib Kavuma (left side of midfield).
One of the most difficult thing in African football is winning away but when lady luck smiles on your side, it happens. However, yesterday, lady luck departed the Cranes. An injury to custodian Denis Onyango in the 30th minute, conceding a 69th minute penalty and a red card to Tony Mawejje all point to my statement.