Onyango’s men desire to find perfect balance

Thursday June 6 2019

Onyango practices his kicking in Abu Dhabi

Onyango practices his kicking in Abu Dhabi yesterday. PHOTO BY FUFA MEDIA 

By ANDREW MWANGUHYA

As Cranes coach Sebastien Desabre continues preparing his team for the Africa Cup of Nations finals, the Frenchman will know too well the great deal of a task on his hands.
The first puzzle to crack, and the most prevalent in Uganda’s DNA, was showed at the just ended Cosafa, where the Cranes second tier team managed only one goal in two matches.
Over the years, Uganda have been blessed in the goalkeeping department, where skipper Denis Onyango has since swept his contemporaries by the way side.
The senior Cranes team conceded three goals against one at the 2017 Afcon in Gabon, with Onyango letting in two, including a penalty against Ghana and a last minute Egypt winner.

Great opportunity
But even then, the defence has hardly transformed into match-winning performances at tournaments, with the home-based Cranes, for example, shipping in 17 goals in four Chan editions.
Salim Jamal, who is now making his case as Onyango’s understudy, is hoping Egypt will be different.
“It is a great opportunity for us to prove ourselves this time round,” said the Sudan-based goalkeeper.
“The goalkeeping department is very competitive and I look forward to welcoming my other teammates Charles Lukwago and Robert Odongkara in camp.”
Yet, it is the limited creativity from the centre of the park, going forward, and the finishing that has often let the Cranes down big time at the finals.
Against 17 goals conceded at Chan group matches since 2011, Uganda could only score eight, and the three group matches at Gabon 2017 could only return one goal in the 1-1 draw with Mali.

Spirit fantastic
Croatia-based Faruku Miya, who scored Uganda’s only goal in Gabon two years ago and three of the Cranes seven goals in the 2019 Afcon qualifiers, is hoping for a different outcome in Egypt.
“We are having great training here and the camp is fantastic,” said the forward.
“I think we are preparing very well. We are following the coach’s instructions and this helps the entire team.
“We shall be in great shape for the kickoff of the tournament. We look forward to the group action.”
Jamal and Miya will now look to Sunday, when Uganda face Turkminstan in a friendly in Abu Dhabi, to show Desabre they can walk the talk.
The Cranes will follow that with another friendly against African heavyweights Ivory Coast on June 15 before arriving in Cairo two days later.
Uganda are placed in Group A alongside seven-time champions and hosts Egypt, two-time winners DRC and surprise package Zimbabwe.

Welcoming the competition
“The goalkeeping department is very competitive and I look forward to welcoming my other teammates Charles Lukwago and Robert Odongkara in camp.”
SUDAN-BASED GOALKEEPER SALIM JAMAL

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