Cranes in striker crisis but Micho confident

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URA’s Kalanda (R) has scored a paltry three goals

URA’s Kalanda (R) has scored a paltry three goals in this season’s domestic league. Photo by Eddie Chicco 


Posted  Thursday, December 12  2013 at  14:23

Ineptness in front of goal has been Uganda Cranes’ biggest problem for the past several years. On many occasions, Ugandan strikers have developed cold feet when their services are most needed.

Ahead of next month’s Chan Championship in South Africa, Cranes coach Micho Sredojevic might not even have a fully fit credible striker to field in his team.

Only local-based players can feature in the tournament but the ongoing Cecafa Cup where Cranes were knocked out at the quarterfinal stage showed Micho has little faith in the home boys.

The coach didn’t take any local-based striker to the Cecafa tourney in Kenya opting for the foreign-based trio of Emmanuel Okwi (under contract at Étoile du Sahel – Tunisia), Hamis Kiiza (Yanga - Tanzania) and Daniel Serunkuuma (Gor Mahia - Kenya).

Okwi, currently featuring for SC Villa, can only travel to South Africa if cleared by Fifa although it is unlikely that will be done in the remaining weeks. That leaves Micho with Francis Olaki (Soana FC), Simon Okwi (SC Victoria University), Yunus Ssentamu (Vipers FC) and Frank Kalanda (URA) as the main striking options.
Kalanda top scored for Cranes in Chan qualification with two goals but was ignored for Cecafa yet many believe the tournament would have helped him sharpen his feet. “I didn’t bring Olaki because he was injured but he is now okay. Frank wasn’t brought because he had a dip in form,” Micho said in defence of his decision to sideline local-based strikers for Cecafa.

But the Serbian has promised to address the striker crisis before the tournament. “The work of the coach is to bring out the best in players. So, together with my staff, we shall ensure they are in the best shape come January,” he said during yesterday’s weekly Fufa press briefing at Mengo. Olaki, the sharper of the lot, has scored eight goals in 15 domestic league games, but his fitness remains a big concern seeing that he has just returned from an ankle injury.

Okwi has six to his name, Ssentamu five while Kalanda boasts three goals but appeared off pace in last month’s friendly against Rwanda.

With three build-up games lined up, Micho feels he will have sharp strikers by the time Cranes start their Chan campaign.