The new Uganda Cranes coach Sébastien Desabre has his work cut out as a big task is at hand for him to turn around the fortunes of the East Africans after his team were knocked out of the CHAN 2018 tournament following a 0-1 loss to Namibia in Marrakesh.
It is the fourth time in a row that the Uganda Cranes have suffered heart-break at the group stage of the Championship of African Nations (CHAN) tournament following a late winning goal from the Warriors in Group B against the 10-men of Uganda.
The Cranes had a fairly good first half creating half chances and winning several corner kicks. However, their blunt attacking line failed to convert any of the chances allowing the Namibians to regroup and gain confidence as they slowly came back into the game. This vice has been the Cranes undoing for a long time as goal scoring has been a major problem for Desabre’s charges who has to find a solution real quick.
Although the Cranes have been solid at the back for a long spell, especially during their journey back to the Africa Cup of Nations and World Cup qualifiers, they paid the price for switching off in critical moments of games. Just like the errors in the first game against Zambia which they lost 3-1, they repeated this last night again switching off 2 minutes into added time and allowing second-half substitute Panduleni Nekundi to sneak through and fire high past Viper’s custodian Isma Watenga.
That too is going to be a yet another point of concern for the new French tactician who is yet to know his team well. He succeeded Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojević in December last year but has no time for honey moon if he is to put things right going forward.
HE MUST FIND THE BALANCE
Although this is a tournament for locally-based players, 41-year old Desabre has to find the much-needed balance in the team and find it very fast especially with AFOCN qualifiers coming soon and with the bulk of the players here who will form the back born of the Cranes in the near future. The first assignment for him is to find that balance between attack and defense which has always been confusing for the national teams even at junior levels until Micho came up with a formula to get some crucial away results towards the end of his tenure.
The two lost games at CHAN can act as his basis for going to the drawing board. The concern being that, whereas the forwards Milton Karisa, Derrick Nsibambi , Nelson Senkatuka and Allan Kyambadde in this case, were wasteful in front of goal and firing blanks, the defenders also easily lost concentration resulting to those moments of lapses that have often been punished by opponents.
Flying full backs Nicholas Wadada and Isaac Muleme have often times been caught out of position where they overlap and forget to fall back or are too slow to recover which happened in both games with the team dearly paying price.
The midfield comprising players like Ibrahim Taddeo Lwanga, Sadam Juma, Shaif Batte and Muzamir Mutyaba has not helped matters as well with minimal contribution in the goals tally as well as in assists. And just like the fullback they have also been caught out of position several times as they fail to do defensive duties.
One of our strengths has always been the goalkeeping department but with KCCA’s Benjamin Ochan’s comical displays against Zambia, Desabre was forced to turn to Watenga which again meant there’s now uncertainty in that area although captain Dennis Onyango is a more reliable when normal business resumes with AFCON qualifiers.
However, someone equally reliable has to step up with a long list of potential talents like Robert Odonkara, Salim Jamal Magoola, Benjaming Ochan, Ismail Watenga, Saidi Kenyi and Nicholas Ssebwato all in the mix.
TIME NOT ON DESABRE’S SIDE
Defender Timothy Denis Awanyi was sent off against Namibia just like Muhamad Shaban was sent off in the COSAFA under 20 tournament last year and may be Desabre has to check the disciplinary aspect as well.
For now, we have to play Cote D’Ivoire on Monday and fight for a consolation win before returning to the drawing board where Desabre who admitted after the game that there is a problem, has a lot of work to do ahead of AFCON qualifiers. He has no win after four games.
“There must be a problem. My job is to find a solution. I want to win every match as a coach. I will monitor the League championship when we go back to find players for the National team”. He promised
On the other side, Zambia (who beat Cote D’Ivoire 2-0) and Namibia who will face off in Casablanca next week have qualified for the quarter final stage from group B.