By James Bakama
It’s KCCA’s moment to toast. Beating a team of El Merreikh’s stature to a place at the next stage of CAF Champions League is no easy feat.
Unlike Uganda’s other regular representatives URA, who have always fallen out at the first stage, KCCA moved a step further by beating the Sudanese giants 3-2 on aggregate.
George Nsimbe’s side faces Nkana Red Devils next at the next stage.
The Zambian side beat Swaziland’s Mbabane Swallows 5-2 to book a date with KCCA. Celebrations aside, if KCCA is to also go over the next hurdle, then it will have to work doubly hard.
This is at least going by the Lugogo side’s performance in Saturday’s return leg at Namboole.
True, El Merreikh were aided by Burundian referee Thierry Nkurunziza, but KCCA will also have to get some basics right if they are to become Uganda’s first team to reach the lucrative group stages. KCCA’s 2-1 loss at home was the least everyone expected from a team that had pulled off a 2-0 away win the previous week.
The home side started off well with a passing game, and all signs were that they were on course to building on their Khartoum win. The attacks indeed paid off with Tony Odur getting an early goal.
But from that point the hosts started losing grip.
Rather than go into more attacks, they fell back piling pressure on themselves. In the process they failed to exploit voids in the opponents’ defence.
Low fitness levels
KCCA’s fitness levels were also lacking. As early as the first half attacking midfielders Herman Wasswa and William Wadri were already panting.
In one of these low points Wadri carelessly lost the ball in a counter attack that resulted in an Ahmed Elbasha’s 41st minute goal.
A more alert defence wouldn’t have also allowed El Merreikh’s second goal. Goalkeeper Salim Magoola parried back Mohammed Traore’s penalty kick.
But rather than react fast and clear away virtually the entire KCCA backline simply looked on as the rebound was played back to Traore to score. KCCA also have to learn to play on and off the ball.
The players were in most cases simply ball watching when they didn’t have the ball.
The KCCA bench must in future also be fast in taking decisions.
There was no reason Wasswa should have stayed on long into the match. His replacement by Michael Birungi paid immediate dividends as he ran rings round defenders
KCCA still have work to do