By Fred Kaweesi
Africa Nations Cup Qualifier
Uganda 1 Madagascar 0
IN the aftermath of Uganda Cranes’ 1-0 win over Madagascar on Saturday, a friend sent me an SMS saying: “One day, Massa (Geoffrey) will kill fans inside the stadium.”
Despite her excitement, she didn’t hesitate decrying the Cranes striker’s heart-breaking catalogue of misses that followed his match-winning goal on 13 minutes.
At some stage, a section of hot-headed fans were seen waving for his immediate substitution.
But that was understandable.
Fans ride on emotion while coaches thrive on principles –the kind that ensured Massa played out the entire game, the kind that saw Luwagga Kizito start ahead of Tony Mawejje and attacking midfielder Brian Majwega play at left-back.
It was on the back of this that Massa hailed Cranes head coach Micho Sredojevic for sticking with him throughout the fixture.
Massa celebrates with Emmanuel Okwi after his 12th minute strike which turned out to be the winner. Photo by Mpalanyi Ssentongo
“I was not 100% fit. And the coach was aware of my situation. I am glad that he appreciated what I was contributing on the pitch,” Massa told New Vision Sport.
“The most important thing was winning the game. I have been recovering from an injury and that’s why I missed the first leg. I played at 60%,” he stated.
“I tried to fight on even when I felt uncomfortable and couldn’t run well,” Massa added.
“There are fans that will always criticise players and that doesn’t help us. I scored from a half-chance and no one appreciates that. True, I missed chances but I worked hard to get into those situations. Even the best players miss chances,” Massa pointed.
Massa headed into the net after Luwagga had shoved off three defenders to float in a well-weighted ball at the opposite end of the 18-yard area.
Although there were a series of anxious moments that had the hosts on the back-foot later in the second half, including Noro Andramahitsi’s miscued shot, Cranes deserved their win, as their attacking and expansive approach to the game was irresistible.
Micho chose a game-plan and his troops stuck to it.
Micho couldnt hide his disappointment as Cranes fluffed their chances to set up a nervy finish to the match. Photo by Mpalanyi Ssentongo.
The Serbian is however aware that if Cranes are to sail past Equatorial Guinea, his side would have to be more organised at the back and clinical upfront.
“Of course, we will have to be more clinical. The rule of the game is that when you miss chances, you get punished. But that’s not my worry at all. We will work on that,” said Micho.
“It’s dangerous if a team cannot create chances. What we have now is a team that creates many. What we need to do now is work on how to finish them off.
“I was happy with Massa’s performance. He was recovering from injury but did everything I asked him to do. I asked him to defend against the high balls, I asked him to unsettle their defence, I asked him to hold the ball and create chances and he did all that,” Micho added.