Uganda Cranes midfield woes have been worsened by the confirmation that Seattle Sounders FC midfielder Mike Azira won’t be part of the side to face Mauritania in a 2015 AFCON qualifier on Saturday.
The ex-SC Villa skipper has decided to concentrate on club duty after the MLS side refused to release him in time for the friendly game against Malawi denying coach Micho an opportunity to have a glance at him at least for minutes in a match before fielding him against Mauritania.
Azira’s absence leaves Micho with only one experienced central midfielder for the Mauritania duel in Gor Mahia’s Geoffrey ‘Baba’ Kizito after leaving out Haugesund’s Tonny Mawejje and club less Hassan Wasswa for the game.
Tusker FC midfielder Aucho Khalid who featured in both games Madagascar in the previous round is serving a one match ban.
Azira has so far made nine (9) appearances for Seattle Sounders since joining from Charleston Battery at the start of the 2014 season.
Against Malawi, Micho started with Kizito and Ivan Ntege as the two central midfielders but the duo played without coordination with the latter looking naïve with or without the ball.
The Serb paired Baba with youthful Miya Farouq in the second half and the results were almost similar though Miya used the ball a bit more than Ntege.
Besides, against Seychelles last Friday, Micho tried a number of options in the position with central defender Isaac Isinde playing as the anchorman alongside Ivan Ntege and later introduced Muzamir Mutyaba but with no valid impact.
Cranes must beat Mauritania with a big margin before playing away from home in the return leg in a fortnight to stand a chance of qualifying for group stages where Ghana, Togo and Guinea are lurking in Group E.
Mike Azira’s Career in the US
2014: Has so far played nine (9) games for Seattle Sounders in MLS
2013: Scored six goals with two assists in 31 games played for Charleston Battery plus added two goals in two matches in USL PRO Playoffs. Appeared in two U.S. Open Cup matches.
2012: Scored first career goal; the game-winner in 2012 USL PRO Championship against Wilmington Hammerheads. Played 14 matches in regular-season play. Appeared in one post season match and one U.S. Open Cup match.
2010-11: Played for the Mississippi Brilla of the USL PDL while in college and scored five goals in 28 appearances over two seasons.
Played senior season for University of Mobile where he finished with two goals and four assists while appearing in all 20 matches.
Earned NAIA All-America Honorable Mention and played for Lindsay Wilson College from 2008-09. Named in the All-Conference Team in 2008 and NAIA National Champions in 2009.