By Fred Kaweesi
Africa Nations Championship
Uganda 2 Burkina Faso 1
Uganda v Zimbabwe
MICHO Sredojevic continues to have that special eye for talent. When Frank Kalanda emerged as Cranes match-winner against Tanzania during the Africa Nations Championship qualifiers in June last year, few had heard of the stocky striker.
Fewer had faith —if any —in the forward, the fact that his place in the team even had a lot to do with the absence of first team strikers Tony Odur and Patrick Edema.
A few months down the road, Kalanda chose a move to Vietnam and that looked to create another crisis as there seemed to be no recognised striker.
But that was not in the eyes of Micho. From a pool of five strikers (the others including Francis Olaki, Joseph Mpande, Simon Okwi and Crespo Asiku), the Serbian was able to identify a jewel in the mould of Yunus Sentamu.
The 19-year-old Senior Six vacationist then took just 90 minutes to announce himself to the rest of the world, scoring twice to earn Cranes a remarkable 2-1 win over African giants Burkina Faso on Sunday night.
Micho later stated: “I am so proud of him. His second goal was a product of four weeks of hard work. We had worked on good movement into the box with him and I am happy he delivered,” Micho, whose 4-3-3 formation worked so well, told New Vision yesterday.
The Vipers striker spat venom as early as the 15th minute. He took advantage of Issoufou Dayo’s slip while trying to clear the ball, poked the ball clear on goal before rounding Burkinabe goalkeeper Mohamed Kabore to score.
And just like his first, there was an eye for goal, a cunning instinct to deceive on the run and above all, an amalgamation of precision for his second.
He ghosted between three defenders before turning Francis Olaki’s perfect ball home in a flash.
“Sentamu has a good understanding of the game, knows when to be in the right position at the right time and has good composure. That’s why I chose him ahead of the others,” Micho explained.
Sentamu almost missed the trip However, all said, the script could have been different.
Two weeks ago, Sentamu had been a doubt for the championship.
“He wasn’t supposed to come with us. He had family problems and I had to convince his family to allow me bring him here. He had a late medical test and his passport was also processed last. I am delighted he is with us here,”
Micho disclosed. Sentamu also missed the CECAFA tournament in Nairobi writing his Senior Six UNEB exams.
The result not only earned Uganda her first win in the championship designed for home-based players, but also stamped out the residue of pain suffered three years ago.
In 2011, Cranes lost all three group games in miserable fashion. The team looked feckless, listless and had no direction.
However on Sunday, Cranes were the opposite and full value for their win at Athlone Stadium. They controlled possession and created the better chances against the 2013 AFCON finalists.
In fact, the margin could have been bigger had Denis Iguma beaten goalkeeper Kabore in a one-on-one situation later in the second half.
Micho reviews Zimbabwe videos
As Cranes regrouped for their decisive fixture against Zimbabwe on Thursday, Micho stated that: “The Burkina Faso result is now history. I have asked the players to refocus on the next game. It will be difficult. We reside at the same hotel (Garden Court Nelson Mandela Boulevard), look over each other and know what to expect. I spent the last night watching over their game against Morocco and will plan accordingly,” Micho stated.
I almost left Sentamu behind —Micho