With less than three days to the must win tie against Mauritania, Uganda Cranes coach Mulitin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic must be aware he has a lot of work to do.
The Cranes face Mauritania on Saturday at Namboole seeking to stay on the road to qualification for the Africa Nations Cup finals for the first time since 1978 but warm up games preceding to the game must have left Micho sweating on his midfield and blunt striking line. The friendly match against Malawi on Tuesday exposed some glaring frailties in the team that is bidding to dine with the top footballing nations on the continent.
Like it was against Seychelles last Friday at Lugogo, a blunt striking line and a shaky midfield were on show.
Micho started with KCC FC’s Ivan Ntege and Geoffrey ‘Baba’ Kizito as the two central midfielders with Hamis Kiiza and Joseph Ochaya occupying the wide areas but there was nothing of a positive impact they had on the game.
Ntege and Baba (above) played without coordination while Kiiza and Ochaya made no telling contribution besides running like headless chickens with or without the ball.
Upfront, Brian Umony looked a shadow of the KCC FC forward that grabbed the headlines for the good reasons in 2009.
Only youngster Farouq Miya showed flashes of brilliance in a dull first half with a few delightful passes but his first touch left a lot to be desired.
The introduction of Geoffrey Massa, Brian Majwega, William Luwagga Kizito and Moses Oloya in the second half improved the Cranes slightly but there was still no punch in attack.
Micho opted to shift Miya to a withdrawn role to partner Kizito in central midfield and that explains the frailties in midfield.
Without first choice and experienced heads in Tonny Mawejje and Hassan Wasswa plus fast improving Tusker FC midfield gem Aucho Khalid, Micho remains with Baba Kizito as the only proven and tested player in the position.
The imminent arrival of Seattle Sounders midfielder Mike Azira (left) will offer hope for Micho and Uganda Cranes as he is a good game reader and passer but whether he forges an understanding with Baba in the remaining few days remains a big question.
Upfront, Emmanuel Okwi who missed both friendlies (Seychelles and Malawi) will mostly likely offer Micho with more options but he hasn’t had a good game for Cranes since June, 2013 when the team played Angola and Liberia in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.
True he netted in CECAFA challenge cup last year and in the friendly against Botswana but his performance over two legs against Madagascar in the previous rounds leaves more questions than answers.
“We played according to the coach’s instructions and created chances,” Mwesigwa told Kawowo Sports after the game. “True we didn’t convert them into goals but I think the coach has seen it and will have an opportunity to make things right before we face Mauritania,” he added.
Similar sentiments were echoed by Micho but with just a few days to the game, he knows there is a lot to do if we are to get a decent result against the lowly ranked Mauritania.