Cranes: So far so good, and that’s all that matters

Saturday September 13 2014

midfielder Kizito Luwagga

Finally living up to promise, midfielder Kizito Luwagga’s ability to slalom past opponents has increased Uganda Cranes creativity several fold. PhotoS BY EDDIE CHICCO. 

By MARK SSALI

There is inevitably a temptation to go all cautious on the Uganda Cranes right now, and fish out the old clichés along the lines of ‘long way to go’, ‘we have been here before’, ‘haven’t achieved anything yet’ et cetera et cetera.

Experience tells me, however, that largely subconsciously in all fairness, it is all part of the defeatist attitude that has put paid to any chances of crossing that dotted line in the countless wretched campaigns of days gone by.

Of course Uganda is a long, long way off qualification for the 2015 Africa Cup Of Nations finals, and there lingers a sense of foreboding because the other failed attempts almost all started as rosily as this one has.

But what is the point burdening the team with that baggage, except that is done by those who have developed it as a bearable defensive mechanism against what they consider imminent disappointment, or by others who have had the bug of cynicism deeply embedded over time?

Feel good moment
As a group the Uganda Cranes (and indeed all other individuals and collections in sport and elsewhere in life in this our enclave) have had a long history of mental fragility and with hindsight it is best to let them live in the moment if you want that moment to stretch on; let the cliché of preference be that they take this ‘game by game’ in the hope that they find themselves across that magical line before they realise it. It is not just the best way they are going to make it, it is the only way.

With very long campaigns in the past leaving plenty of time to dwell on proceedings, the subsequent breakdowns were as unavoidable as they were foreseeable. With well more than a year between the first and last group games, the team (not just the players mind) that finished the race would oft-times be unrecognisable from the one that started it (and not just in terms of personnel either).

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Now that the qualifiers have been squeezed into just a few months and the action is virtually non-stop, the whole thing will be over before we can pull out the calculators, and so it is best to let this current crop be carried along by momentum, hopefully at the breakneck speed they have started with.

Onyango is unbreachable at the moment; the back four uncertain at times but solid overall as Dennis Guma continues to grow into the right back role and Savio Kabugo slots in seamlessly; the midfield working better together with and without the ball than any time in recent memory as they create more and more from open play; the frontline led by a man who can’t stop scoring...

Homework done
Micho Sredojevic’s biggest attribute is meticulousness in doing his homework (I can only think of one other Cranes coach who knew as much about the opponents and his own options as the Serbian does), and in this kind of campaign that is already evidently coming in handy.

His three-man central midfield is proving to be quite complimentary, while in the wide areas dribbling ace Kizito Luwagga has single-handedly multiplied the team’s attacking impetus and creativity by finally living up to the promise he first made.

Brian Majwega is a vibrant alternative, and all that is left is for Moses Oloya to elevate his game to the level it should be, and there will be plenty of service for Massa and his sidekicks Brian Umwony, Robert Ssentongo and the still unused Yunus Ssentamu. The Cranes are in fine fettle now, and rather than be loaded with questions about the future they should just be applauded for the answers they are providing at present.

mmssali@yahoo.com
@markssali