Limping Cranes have it all to do to fly over Burkina Faso hurdle
Posted Sunday, February 14 2016 at 02:00
With a little over a month left before Uganda dates Burkina Faso in a crucial 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying double header, alarm is well and truly deepening.
Injuries picked up by strikers Brian Umony (broken leg) and Geoffrey Massa (ankle) have become the object of intense media interest.
While the prognosis of Massa’s injury gives the scorer of 26 Cranes goals a fighting chance, there is growing concern that lack of first team football could have seen the striker’s form screech to a halt.
Shaun Bartlett has used Massa sparingly since he assumed the coaching mantle at University of Pretoria from Sammy Troughton.
This dearth of competitive football coupled with niggling ankle aches and pains means the veteran striker could be shorn of sharpness during the double header.
Cranes coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic has met the aforesaid adversity with a poker face, insisting that he can add another string to his bow from home-based options.
The home-based attackers that Micho fielded during the 2016 African Nations Championship, however, came up with some appallingly timid performances.
Micho, as a matter of fact, had nothing but harsh words for Robert Ssentongo after he thought the striker deliberately obtuse following a tame showing in the 1-0 loss to Zambia.
Even for someone, who coaches intensely and tends to output prodigiously as does Micho, this striking crisis — if we may label it as such — poses lots of migraines.
Micho has already set himself the target of raking seven points from the remaining four qualifiers. This as the Serb looks to take Uganda to the Afcon finals for the first time since 1978.
With two home fixtures against Burkina Faso and Comoros sandwiching an awkward-looking trip to Botswana, Uganda doesn’t appear to be under the cosh.
We have nevertheless seen implosions sprout from campaigns that bar all the hallmarks of a walk in the park. So, caution should be the watchword.
The key thing, as Micho told your columnist this past week, is to get the seven points at the soonest. Leaving it late will fray the nerves of fans who paradoxically are accus-tomed to working out different permutations at the home straight.
This is precisely why the double header against Burkina Faso takes on some significance.
If Cranes players are not to test their fans’ limits this time round, they will need to be proactive against Burkina Faso. The way pro-activity manifests itself in football varies enormously, but there is a general consensus that attack is a common thread.
Last year, the breadth of Uganda’s attack was impressive. A question mark, however, hovers menacingly above last year’s attacking heroes a month or so into the New Year. A drawn-out transfer saga has left Farouk Miya in anything but the right frame of mind (he is still pursuing a visa that will see him play for Belgian outfit Standard Liege).