Abdallah Mubiru has unequivocally apologized for Uganda Cranes’ failure to qualify for a third straight Africa Cup of Nations after the 1-0 defeat in Malawi last month.
Mubiru took charge of the final two games following the suspension of Northern Irishman Johnny McKinstry with Uganda needing two points to qualify for the tournament in Cameroon.
Instead, Uganda drew goalless with Burkina Faso and lost in Blantyre. Some have questioned some of the selection taken by Mubiru in the two games.
He wants to set the record straight. “I take full responsibility of leading the team and it didn’t qualify,” Mubiru says in an exclusive interview.
“I had worked with the team from the beginning of the campaign and for that, I think I was the best person to take over the mantle. I just didn’t deliver what Ugandans expected from me and I can always say that; I’m sorry.”
However, Mubiru, a defensive midfielder in his heyday, believes the national team should have performed better against lowly neighbours South Sudan and claimed all six points. He was an assistant at the time.
Halid Lwaliwa scored the lone goal in Uganda’s 1-0 win here before the team succumbed by the same margin on match day three and four respectively. Uganda would have qualified with two games to spare but collapsed from having seven points in the first three games to failing to qualify.
Group B finished with Burkina Faso on 12 points, two clear of Malawi. Uganda finished third on eight and South Sudan three.
“Probably, if we had gotten all the six points from South Sudan, we would be on 11 points and qualified but, we are unlucky,” Mubiru said.
With that loss to South Sudan last November, there was still time to salvage the campaign and Mubiru is convinced his technical team did their best in terms of approach.
“Although in the game of football, many people look at the final results for that matter, we the technical people look at many things including the performance of the team, game interpretation and the performance of individual players” he says.
Has his failure to deliver Uganda to the Promised Land further dampened the chances of a local coach taking over as national team coach?
“When I lost the game, I lost as a coach not because I was a local coach because the Cranes have lost numerous games with foreign coaches in charge,” Mubiru retorts.
Fufa are yet to decide on the fate of McKinstry even after his one-month suspension elapsed on March 31 but all indications are that he will not return to the job.