The mood of the fans and players said it all after the final whistle as a tired Uganda Cranes team laboured to a goalless draw against the Stallions of Burkina Faso at home in a 2017 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier In Namboole Kampala.
Ugandans are not new to such a situation having come so close yet so far in previous 3 qualification campaigns. However, this was a little different because the Cranes had started the campaign so well that a double header with last night’s opponents would have been a wrap with 2 games to spare had the Cranes won both games.
However the disappointment and pain seen on the faces and players as they walked off showed a big opportunity had once again escaped as the Cranes could only manage a point against the West African who now top group D with 7 points from 4 games.
One reason fronted for the poor showing was that the team was very tired after long flights to Ouagadougou and back to Kampala which involved flight connections and delays where as their opponents stayed fresh and relaxed in coach Micho’s words after chartering a plane to Entebbe and arriving 2 days earlier than the home team.
Cranes coach Milutin Sredojević ‘Micho’ in his post-match press conference echoed the sentiments to the members of the media who had gathered eagerly waiting for explanations.
“I am obviously disappointed with the result, but it was a good match and a thrilling encounter for the neutrals however, what I can say is that, the penalty was given to the opponent ours denied, It played a big part” Micho said.
“The Burkina Faso team put us on pressure because of their tactics which changed our game plan to play long balls but it was a team that was fresh and relaxed against a tired and frustrated team. “He added.
The home team wasted several chances through strikers Farouk Miya, Geoffrey Massa and Emma Okwi with the most notable through substitute Moses Oloya who failed to put a seemingly simple tap away from close range in the dying minutes following the dismissal of Burkinabe captain Charles Kabore.
Although the teams share the same points, Burkina Faso whose coach Paulo Duarte claimed they played against 12 men (in reference to referee’s performance) lead the group on head to head advantage and also have easier fixtures left on paper as they play Comoros next at home while the Cranes task became even more difficult as they travel away to Botswana in June for a tricky must-win encounter to stay in the hunt for a place in Mali Afcon 2017.
Uganda Cranes Starting XI: Denis Onyango, Denis Guma, Joseph Ochaya, Hassan Wasswa Mawanda, Isaac Isinde, Khalid Aucho, Kizito Luwagga, Tonny Mawejje, Farouk Miya, Geoffrey Massa, Emmanuel Okwi
Subs: Robert Ondogokara, Jamal Salim Mike Azira, Timothy Awany, Yasser Mugerwa, Moses Oloya, Godfrey Walusimbi, Erisa Sekisambu
Burkina Faso Starting XI: Diakite Daouda, Charles Kabore, Bakary Kone, Dayo Issoufou, Malo Patrick, Yago Steven Farid, Bakery Saye, Traore Abdul Razack, Nakoulma Prejuce, Jonathan Pitroipa Traore Bertrand Isidora
Subs: Soulama Abdulaye, Guira Adama, Alain Traore, Aristede Bance, Diawara Banou, Issa Gouo, Barros Cyrille Bayala