His biggest challenge is how resolve the team’s puzzle at full-back
Uganda 0 Kenya 0
Nations Cup qualifier
Uganda v Comoros (Sunday)
When Micho Sredejovic retired to the comfort of his luxurious room at Serene Suites in Mutundwe yesterday, he must have looked back to his team’s goalless draw against Kenya with concern.
And the Serbian’s anxiety was not because none of his strikers could score in the lackluster stalemate against the Harambee Stars.
His apprehension could also not particularly have been because of the misplaced passes, countless off-side calls on his strikers or the lack on instinct during set-piece situations.
Not really, as these are issues that can be fixed with more hours in training -at least before Sunday’s decisive Nations Cup qualifier against Comoros.
His biggest challenge is how resolve the team’s puzzle at full-back, without tampering with the structure of the team’s defensive line.
Cynics usually state that friendly games are a waste of time. That ‘get-togethers’ help players bond faster than a fixture played in slow motion.
Well, although Cranes game against Kenya looked more of a training session; it’s safe to say that the game still served its purpose.
It at least helped expose the defensive frailties that come with the Hassan Wasswa-Murshid Juuko central defensive pairing after Isaac Isinde was switched to full-back in an attempt to resolve the void left behind by Denis Iguma’s suspension.
If yesterday’s game highlighted one thing, it’s that Cranes function much better, and are more organized with Isinde at the heart of defense.
Any changes to that effect, on the account of events yesterday, could spell a disaster on Sunday.
Micho’s work cut out
Against the Harambee Stars, Micho chose to largely field two sides.
With Denis Onyango rested, Salim Jamal started in goal, behind a back-four of Nicholas Wadada, Isinde, Murshid and Godfrey Walusimbi.
Wasswa, Khalid Aucho and Moses Oloya took control of what looked like a three-man midfield with Emmanuel Okwi, Geoffrey Massa and Yunus Ssentamu occupying the attacking positions.
Although the first half ended goalless, the team looked solid defensively.
It’s after he rang the changes in the second half that Cranes seemed to struggle.
Isinde replaced Wadada at full-back, Wasswa switched to defence alongside Murshid while Joseph Ochaya came on for Walusimbi.
Tony Mawejje, Luwagga Kizito, Geoffrey Sserunkuuma and Farouk Miya completed the raft of changes — changes that coincidentally allowed Kenya to have control of the game.
And not once but four times, did Kenya ghost past Cranes defense.
The visitors should have converted three of the four goal-bound chances but for a lack of incisiveness with just Jamal to beat.
Between now and Sunday, Micho will spend time working on his defensive combinations before deciding on whether to risk with Isinde on the right rather than his accustomed role or gamble with Wadada on the right, to allow the Isinde-Murshid flourish as has been the case since the start of qualifiers.
Cranes injured striker Brian Umony watched yesterday’s friendly and still believes the Cranes will get the job done on Sunday.
“I trust the boys to get the job done. They should go all-out against Comoros,” said Umony, who scored in the 2-0 win over Botswana in the first game and played in the 1-0 win over Comoros.
All that Cranes need to do, following their previous 2-1 win over Botswana is beat Comoros to end Uganda’s 38 year drought from the finals.
A win against the Island outfit, currently bottom of Group D with three points, will earn Cranes 13 points —which will be the highest point tally of all teams looking at making Africa’s top showpiece through the two tickets available for the second best finishers.
Bring on Comoros!