Monday June 2 2014

Massa’s wastefulness leaves nation’s hearts in trepidation

Massa reacts after one of the chances he failed

Massa reacts after one of the chances he failed to utilise on Saturday. photo by Eddie Chicco 

By Mark Namanya

Few players polarize opinion like Geoffrey Massa, Uganda Cranes’ match winner on Saturday.
Those who love him point to his work rate and terrier-like style which keeps defenders on their toes.

His critics say he is a wasteful striker. Against Madagascar, the University of Pretoria striker fuelled one of Ugandan football’s longest bar arguments with a performance that aided his supporters and cynics.

His goal was a well-taken header that would have made any no.9 proud.
By biding time as midfielder Kizito Luwagga cunningly waited for Madagascar defender Olivier Ralaidimy to commit himself on the floor, Massa showed fine patience.

When Kizito duly floated the ball into the area, Massa combined his good positioning with a basketballer’s leap - that beat his marker Elysee Rwanoriamanantena - to head home from close range.

It was a fine goal in the simplicity of its creation and execution.
What followed after for Massa was a horror movie. A brilliant Denis Guma cross was fumbled by the goalscorer’s poor first touch allowing Madagascar keeper Robin Rakotonirina to save. With hindsight Massa will wish he had connected first time rather than attempt to control and shoot.

Early in the second half, Massa admittedly forced a top-drawer point blank save out of Rakotonirina after another Luwagga delivery but shortly after showed selfishness by cutting inside from the right to fire far and wide with his weaker left foot when he could have teed up teammates in the box.

The former Police striker then flashed a shot into the side netting from a prohibitive angle before failing to bury Madagascar after superb work from substitute Diego Hamis Kiiza. With the game at 1-0, all Madagascar required was an equalizer to qualify. Namboole stadium became nervy with every missed chance and there was always a fear that the lowly visitors could get the odd goal out of nothing as so happens in the strange game of football.

They were presented a palpable opportunity at the death but Carolis Andiamahitsinoro missed from close range.
Cranes coach Micho Sredojevic naturally defended the striker in the post-match conference but will be aware that better sides would have punished such profligacy.
The Massa debate meanwhile continues unabated.