Micho was bound to go, but Fufa, Govt as guilty

The end to Micho's reign seemed inevitable to everyone. PHOTO/COURTSEY  

What you need to know:

The Serbian's second spell as Cranes coach has been admittedly poor, but so have been his employers, Fufa, and the Government in failing to define the country’s actionable strategy and having a home venue for Uganda, respectively

Now that the fall guy is finally out of the way, we can calm down and fully examine the bigger problem.  

But before we get to that, we have to acknowledge that the kiss and make up between Fufa, with whom he fell out with over arrears and first left acrimoniously in 2017, and Micho Sredojevic failed to spark the old flames. 


In the end, it is not surprising that following an extremely pedestrian second spell in which Micho failed to return Uganda to Africa Cup of Nations finals due in Ivory Coast early next year, a second break-up was inevitable. 

Only that this time, it is not Micho who jumped. He was instead pushed after exactly two years and 14 days into his second spell of a three-year contract signed late July 2021.

“Today, Thursday 14th September 2023, Fufa and Mr. Milutin Sredojevic agreed to mutually end the existing employment contract between the two parties,” Fufa announced on their website.

“Fufa appreciates all efforts and commitment by Mr. Milutin during his period as Head coach of Uganda Cranes.”

Point of no return 

Indeed, for all Micho’s shortcomings with his players on the field of play, you can neither question his “effort” nor “commitment.”

But that effort and commitment terribly failed to deliver the desired performances and results.

That failure served the perfect sauce for those who thrill in ‘I told you,’ and the toxicity that ensued between Micho and Cranes fans over his inspiring shows on the pitch reached a point of no return.

Gave Ugandans joy

Yet that should not blind Ugandans of Micho’s achievements and standing in the country’s football history. 

The 54-year-old Serbian will remain revered in Uganda’s football folklore, except for those just prejudiced against the man.

Until Faruku Miya’s solitary goal against Comoros on September 4, 2016 at the Mandela National Stadium, Namboole, a full generation of Ugandans did not have any lived recollection of what qualifying for Afcon meant.

For the previous 19 Afcon qualifying editions, Ugandans had drawn in sorrows and agony, sometimes whitewashed by Northern Africans in cricket scores, and others missing by a point or simply dropping the ball on the last day.

But after replacing Scotsman Bobby Williamson in 2013 and being allowed time to do his thing, Micho - helped by a group of players he had worked with for three years - finally took Uganda to the Promised Land.

Changed away mentality

Something different happened in that 2017 qualification campaign. Uganda hardly knew what winning a football match away from home meant.

But Micho, whose game mainly focuses on the results rather than orchestras, and his team engineered a crazy run dating from 2015 that formed the foundation of delivering Gabon 2017.

In 2015 alone, Uganda won six out of eight away games, one of them in Afcon and another in World Cup qualification.

The Cranes built on that in 2016, beating Botswana 2-1 away from home to rescue a situation that had been threatened by Burkina Faso picking four points off Uganda. Actually, only Burkina Faso got points off Uganda. 

The Cranes beat both Botswana and Comoros home and away to qualify as the second best team behind leaders Burkina Faso and put to an end Ugandans four decade pain. 

Fufa & the chaotic transition

A case for Micho’s game not being as entertaining is legitimate, especially when you have a glimpse of what his successor Sebastien Desabre put up in the Frenchman’s short stint when he took Uganda back to Afcon in 2019.

Although it should also be said that while Desabre was more appealing to the eye, he found a mature team capable of delivering at least one more Afcon appearance.

That was not the case when Micho returned. The Serb found Cranes in chaos after Johnny McKinstry had been sacked in the middle of Afcon 2021 qualifiers and replaced interimly by Abdallah Mubiru. 

Several stars like skipper Denis Onyango and Mike Azira had also retired and the team was in transition. 

But even then, Micho could and should have done more with the available players.

Anyway, Fufa and Micho capitalised on that magic word - transition, insisting that whatever was in between was a prelude to qualifying for the Fifa 2026 World Cup.

But beyond the word ‘transition’ and having new young players coming in and some old servants that had outlived their stay retained, Micho and Fufa had nothing for us to enjoy on the pitch.

The players seemed not to know each other once the ball got rolling, and Micho seemed to wonder what to do to crack the code from his dugout.

Apart from rhetorically declaring Uganda was preparing for the Fifa 2026 World Cup, Fufa neither provided the country with a clearly defined and actionable plan of how we were getting there, nor got the compatible man for the task.

It starts from the bottom

The national league itself has been on a downward spiral. Ugandan clubs have been invisible on the continent since Mike Mutebi’s KCCA entertained us there at the close of the last decade.

Yes, Vipers made the Champions League group stage last season but have been eliminated this campaign at the same speed they went there.

The national team is not where footballers are made. They are made from the grassroots where Fufa and the country remain largely clueless on how to get on from here.

Now Micho is gone, and another coach will come in, just like it has been in the past. 

But until Fufa define their football interests clearly beyond scattering energies and resources in other businesses unrelated to the game’s genuine development, the new coach will come, eat and move on.

Government & misplaced priorities

And then you have a country that is so good at misplacing priorities birthday parties are the new national trend!

You have a country that hosted their home games on foreign land with absolutely no shame because focusing on completing renovations at Namboole in time is hardly a priority.  

This same country also plans to host the 2027 Afcon finals together with Kenya and Tanzania. 

Because of misplaced priorities, Uganda garnered a massive one point from home games played at Kitende (before Caf also decertified that), Egypt and Cameroon.

Egypt and Cameroon, where Cranes hosted their home games, and Algeria and Tanzania - the only countries in Uganda’s group that hosted their home games at home - all qualified for Afcon 2023 finals.