IGUMA'S well-taken strike was a product of some dominant play that ultimately had a lot to do with how well Micho had set his team out to play
By Fred Kaweesi
WHEN Hamis Kiiza eventually decides to retire, there is enough to suggest that he will make a good tactician.
The Cranes striker has a poachers’ instinct around the box but equally important an intuition to read and understand players’ mind-sets.
Although Kiiza has barely spent two seasons with Tanzania club Yanga, he felt well qualified to advise Cranes coach Micho Sredojevic on how best to negotiate Saturday’s Africa Nations Championship against Tanzania.
In an interview published last Wednesday, Kiiza told New Vision Sport that: “That game will be won or lost in the first 30 minutes. From what I know as has been their style at home, they will attack from the start and try to get an early goal.
So Cranes will have to frustrate them for that period,” Kiiza, who is ineligible for the home-based players’ championship due to his foreign-based status stated then.
“If they can achieve that, the fans will lose patience, begin grumbling and the two sets of fans (Simba and Yanga), who dominate their fan base will begin blaming each other’s players as the game proceeds.”
Reports from Dar es Salaam indicate the strategy worked. That the Cranes stuck to their game-plan, did enough to combat Tanzania’s impressive start to the game and just like Kiiza had predicted all in the space of the first 30 minutes, during which they pressed forward relentlessly for an opening goal —first Amri Kiemba then Mrisho Ngassa when put through by Mwinyi Kazimoto.
The hosts then faded as chances went by, handing Cranes the initiative.
Although Brian Majwega missed an opportunity at the stroke of half time, the Cranes were in ascendency.
Denis Iguma’s well-taken strike thereafter was a product of some dominant play that ultimately had a lot to do with how well Micho had set his team out to play.
Just as had been in Cranes’ previous 2014 World Cup qualifiers, Saturday’s remarkable result away from home brought the best out of the Serbian coach.
He chose the right tactics, selected the right players, squeezed the best performances out of these players, made tactical adjustments where necessary, but most importantly snatched a result out of very tough conditions.
Always ready to gamble
When Micho chose to drop Michael Birungi and Herman Wasswa for the fixture due to a lack of effort and poor attitude, it seemed a massive gamble that would have far-reaching ramifications if it backfired.
But for a man who equally understands the Tanzanian game so well, he probably felt he wouldn’t need them.
That if he wanted a result, he had to opt for a group of warriors, ready to go pound for pound against the well drilled Taifa Stars side.
Birungi and Wasswa had been lacklustre in Cranes’ only warm-up game against the U-23 Kobs team on Wednesday and there was no way he would gamble on players that were clearly short on commitment.
He stuck with two strikers Tony Odur and Patrick Edema and although the two weren’t on the score sheet, he will gladly take the result.
No serious friendlies
He will take the result for the simple reason that he barely knew the team.
With the exception of Iguma and Hassan Wasswa, he had only watched the rest of the group in training.
It is exactly why Micho should be credited for assembling the right 11 that successfully fought toe-to-toe with a Tanzanian team that had played together for the last four years including the on-going World Cup qualifiers.
Micho had no clue of how the other nine of his players would perform but believed in his preferred choices on the back of tactical nous.
If opting to start with Iguma in an attacking midfield role was some sort of surprise, then how about the unpredictable thought of installing the ‘untried and untested’ Majwega at left-back?
Fielding a player that had throughout his career played in an attacking role for Simba and KCC FC in a defensive position demanded a lot of courage.
Majwega’s brilliant movement from a defensive position, telepathic understanding with Said Kyeyune, great vision and simple approach were proof that Micho has a trained eye for talent.
How about the shocker that came with Iguma? Iguma has previously started at right-back for the senior Cranes side and if there was any shortcoming in his game, it was the lack of industry going forward.
But what does Micho do? He decided to switch the youthful defender to a more offensive role and the reward for his impressive run out was the winner that helped Uganda place one foot into the championships due in South Africa next year.
Micho deserves credit for Cranes'' win