With 10 minutes left of their first leg Caf Confederation Cup first round game against Sudanese side El Merrikh, URA were handed a boost when Sam Timbe was allowed to sit on the technical bench.
This was after the Tax Collectors changed his role at the club to that of head coach having initially referred to him as manager, a title that is non-existent in the Caf technical structure.
By then, he could do little to change the team’s fortunes with the game ending in a slim 2-1 lead that they take into tomorrow’s return leg in Ethiopia.
More importantly, however, Timbe appeared able to identify the team’s weakness going by his post-match comments.
“I would want the whole team to work as a unit but that wasn’t the case. Against a team that had more possession, some players were pressing and others were not yet the goals we scored came through us pressuring them,” he said.
Having sorted the off-field technical issues, URA will hope Timbe’s four extra days working with the team makes the big difference.
Timbe’s work could start in midfield with Patrick Mbowa who started as the holding midfielder in the absence of the departed Julius Mutyaba but often opted to hoof most ball upfield rather than initiate attacks.
The Tax Collectors also lacked the usual intensity that was associated with the team over the past two seasons under previous coach Sam Ssimbwa. This allowed the Ethiopian side to build from deep as evidenced by their well-worked goal that left the tie delicately poised.
The return of midfielder Saidi Kyeyune from a stint with Sudanese side El Merrikh was expected to help restore the team’s high pressing but while he was involved in both goals scored by Steven Mukwala, he often failed to press even when pushed further forward.
His ability to shoot from range and telepathy with captain Shafik Kagimu should be another strong point for URA against opponents who also allow the opposition to play.
The Mukwala impact
Forward Steven Mukwala, who made his senior Cranes debut in the World Cup qualifiers earlier this month, continued his rich vein of form from last season with a firm header for the opener.
His wonderfully executed curling strike on the edge of the 18-yard box also showed he has added more to his game than just the aggression and pace that is associated with him.
His usual striking partner Cromwel Rwothomio was subdued before being withdrawn and it will be interesting to see if Timbe retains him.
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