Victory on his competitive debut is a must for new Cranes coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic if he is to silence the doubting Thomases.
This is why it is extremely worrying that three days to the crunch World Cup qualifier against Liberia, he had 28 players in camp, and was yet to decide which players were to face the West Africans.
He has already shown mental resolve by dropping Tripoli flops Ivan Bukenya, Musa Mudde, Israel Emuge and Herman Wasswa.
However, trips to North Africa customarily bring out the worst in Ugandan players, so I would have preferred he reads little into the Libya debacle.
Problem is, there was so much experimentation, which shows he was trying to prove that he is his own man. Not a wise move if you ask me.
Victory over Liberia tomorrow will only be possible if he maintains the core of the team that beat Congo Brazzaville and played in the Cecafa Challenge Cup, with just a few tweaks here and there.
Micho’s job has been complicated by Denis Onyango’s enforced absence through suspension, Simeon Masaba’s retirement and Godfrey Walusimbi’s family problems that have rendered him a doubt for a game of this magnitude. Abel Dhaira should have been the automatic replacement for Onyango but he was jittery in Tripoli where lack of first team football at Tanzania’s Simba where he plays second fiddle to Juma Kasajja caught up with him.
Robert Odongkara, who has international exposure with St George who are featuring in the Orange Caf Confederations Cup, would be my choice ahead of Dhaira, Ali Kimera and Hamza Muwonge.
Denis Guma has tended to get the right back slot only on account of his seniority and toughness, but I would go for Nicolas Wadada because he is more the natural in this position. Wadada comfortably supports the attack whereas Guma is clumsy at best once he crosses the halfway line.
For left back, it is hard to look beyond Asante Kotoko man Joseph Ocaya, though he is mostly at ease going forward. Left side of midfield is his predisposition.
With Ivan Bukenya and Israel Emuge proving that out of sight should be out of mind, the more trusted central defensive pairing of Andy Mwesigwa and Henry Kalungi is the way to go.
Despite all his experience, Hassan Wasswa is one player I would not want to see in the starting line-up.
Lack of playing time due to a protracted transfer has left him heavy footed and with the weight of a sumo wrestler, yet mobility is crucial to our midfield.
Geoffrey ‘Baba’ Kizito’s emergence as a goal scoring midfield holder makes him a must start, with Tony Mawejje and Kizito Luwagga pushing for a place alongside him.
Moses Oloya has been Cranes’ most creative player over the last one year, and Micho must improve his contribution by asking him to play closer to the central midfielders and strikers, instead of hugging the touchline.
Geoffrey Massa is hard to overlook as a spearhead of a three-man attack because his contribution is more than just goals. He is the most powerful striker at Micho’s disposal, which allows him to occupy defenders and drag them out of position.
Emmanuel Okwi’s single-mindedness, eye for goal, ability to pick up the ball from deep positions and move to Tunisia’s Etoile du Sahel has exposed him to pressure cooker situations which warrant a place alongside Massa.
My most controversial choice would be Martin Mutumba. Forget about his calamitous home debut where he was booed by impatient fans. AIK Stockholm star Mutumba is one of just a handful in the Cranes squad who can create something out of nothing.
The once catch is that he would have to be played more as a striker, than a midfielder because he is not your archetypal ball winner.