By Fred Kaweesi
AS Cranes prepare for their next assignment against Zimbabwe on Thursday, it is timely to look back at some of coach Micho Sredojevic’s tactical decisions that ultimately earned Uganda that remarkable 2-1 win against Burkina Faso.
On Sunday, the Serbian chose a game plan and stuck to it, his supreme confidence pervading the entire side as he kept his charges in line without tinkering unnecessarily.
However, it’s the setup of his side that proved more interesting.
To start with, if there was something to take from Micho’s side against Burkina Faso, it was that this is a man who is full of surprises.
While a majority expected the experienced Joseph Mpande to start in attack, the Serbian decided otherwise.
Micho did not only surprise with the choice of playing the inexperienced Yunus Sentamu as a lead striker.
His option of playing a ‘defender’ Denis Iguma behind the 19-year-old as a support striker was even more alarming.
To start with, how did Sentamu come into the picture? Granted, he has been some kind of revelation in schools competitions but the Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) is not a ‘Sunday school’ competition where any 19-year-old should have a right to star.
You need experience to play at such a high level. For goodness’ sake, Sentamu had not even participated in the CECAFA Challenge Cup before —a tournament that normally acts as a platform for promising talent.
The manner in which this Senior Six vacationist walked straight into the team ahead of more experienced figures demands explanation.
“Sentamu has a good understanding of the game, knows when to be position at the right time and has good composure. That’s why I chose him ahead of the others.
“I am so proud of him. His second goal was a product of four weeks of hard work. We had worked on good movement with him into the box and I am happy he delivered,” Micho told New Vision on Monday.
But how would you explain a situation where Iguma, previously renown as a resilient defender has fast evolved into a midfielder then suddenly into a support striker.
“When I arrived in Uganda, I realised Iguma was underutilised as a right back. I felt he had more to deliver in attack. The process had to be gradual.
“When I played him in attacking midfield during the first leg against Tanzania in the CHAN qualifiers, nobody believed in the decision I took. But he played well and scored.
“He has a good sense of running into the opponents final third and playing that wonderful pass to a teammate. If you remember so well against Burkina Faso, he even had a chance of scoring but missed,” Micho pointed.
Believes in scoring midfielders
Micho’s faith in Iguma explains why midfielder Tony Mawejje has blossomed under the Serbian. During the 2014 World Cup qualifiers against Liberia and Angola, Mawejje struck two rare Cranes goals.
Against the Lone Stars, Mawejje’s darting run forward, presented Emmanuel Okwi with that hole for the return through pass that allowed him into space to score past hapless Liberia goalkeeper Sherman Nathaniel.
Against Angola, Mawejje was still well-placed in the final third for the all-important winner.
Micho’s new ideology is to expand Cranes goal scoring threat by encouraging midfielders get into scoring positions rather than restrict the assignment to the two strikers or that odd goal from set-pieces.
Iguma seems to have taken on that role in the CHAN team with Hassan Wasswa and Ivan Ntege playing the holding role.