Micho promises better after another WC qualifiers draw

Wednesday September 08 2021
soc02pix

Tough times?. Micho dishes out instructions to the Cranes during the World Cup 2022 qualifier between Uganda and Mali at St Marys Stadium, Kitende on Monday. Photo | John Batanudde

By Andrew Mwanguhya

There is not much time for Uganda Cranes to beat themselves up for the shortfalls in the two goalless draws away in Kenya and St Mary’s Stadium, Kitende. 

Instead, some reasonable time to get local-based players currently off-season to continue with the grind, hope those in Caf competitions get run-outs, the injured to recover fast, and travel restrictions to be eased quickly.

That is Cranes coach Micho Sredojevic’s prayer as the 51-year-old Serb works overtime to address fans fears over which direction the team is taking. 

In the same breath, Micho - while acknowledging the first two 2022 World Cup qualifying matches have been far from inspiring - is calling for patience if the transition of the team is to be successfully managed. 

“Players are not like phones that you touch one button and they instantly work,” said Micho, talking to NTV Press Box and Daily Monitor.

“These are human beings and we are in transition, and mistakes will happen as we continue learning.

Advertisement

“You are facing a Mali midfield of experienced players playing in Uefa Champions League, and we have our boy, Bobosi Byaruhanga, who played the U20 Afcon finals, with them.

“You can’t compare but at the same time, that is the experience you want to give to a young boy we think can go on to dominate that area for next 10 years.”

Tight group
The two draws were, however, helped by as many stalemates by Kenya and Rwanda picking only a point in two matches. 

That has Mali topping Group E on four points, just two ahead of Kenya and Uganda and three adrift of Rwanda.

It remains an open group despite the anxiety amongst Cranes fans, with Uganda next facing Rwanda - first in Kigali and then Kitende early next month.

But what has fans more anxious is the little promise when the referee starts the match. 

Against both Kenya in Nairobi and Mali, Uganda lacked identity, with the Eagles especially bossing them at Kitende, where defender Murushid Juuko’s moment of madness saw the Cranes end with 10 men.

Micho appreciates the anxiety but believes several factors have played part, and hopes Uganda will be a different outfit as qualification progresses.

“The matches against Rwanda are now the most important, and the preparations have already started,” expounded Micho.

“We are going to continue working with the local based players to build onto this.
“Khalid Aucho (Yanga) and Joseph Ochaya (TP Mazembe) are going to be playing in the Caf Champions League matches.

“Emmanuel Okwi (Cranes captain) will also be playing either in South Africa or North Africa, let’s see how that goes, and goalkeeper Robert Odongkara will also have a club.”

Reinforcements 
Daily Monitor understands that informed that Okwi is headed to South African side Chippa United, where goalkeeper Isma Watenga is playing.

“We are also hoping that we shall have our boys from Europe, Bevis Mugabi from Motherwell in Scotland, Edris Lubega in Portugal, Timothy Awany and Fahad Bayo in Israel among others.”

The above were not part of Match Days one and two as the countries they play in consider Uganda a Covid-19 red flag zone.

“We also hope Farouk  Miya, who scored that goal that took us to Gabon Afcon 2017, will have settled after sorting his club movement issues .

“Taddeo Lwanga and Patrick Kaddu, we are confident, will have also recovered from injuries and then we shall see the real Cranes.”

Micho added that after legendary Denis Onyango’s retirement, and the likes of Mike Azira and others active but over-the-hill players, it is important for fans to understand that the team is undergoing transition.

“Yes Fufa president Moses Magogo and us we have a target of 2026 World Cup to qualify, but here we also have a chance to give Qatar our best.

“We shall stretch ourselves humanly possible but let us also not forget that we can only do what we can with what we have. 
“We just have to continue progressively improving and that transition takes time and patience.”

Players regression 
Micho also expressed sadness that several players including Miya, Allan Okello, Moses Waiswa and Okwi himself have regressed.

“Okello is the kind of talented player you look at to pick into the small pockets of spaces behind defenders in number 10 role, but it breaks my heart that it is not happening for him at Paradou (Algeria).

“It is sad that our players continue to fail to hold starting places when they move abroad. That is a question we need to address as a country.”

On his less fancy style of play, according to observers, Micho made it clear that he can only do much with the quality of players available.

“Let’s get the result as we also look for the style. The style will come with time. It’s a process. In five years - maybe I won’t be here - but I want to have a team that will be making waves on the continent.”

There is not much time for Uganda Cranes to beat themselves up for the shortfalls in the two goalless draws away in Kenya and St Mary’s Stadium, Kitende. 

Instead, some reasonable time to get local based players currently off-season to continue with the grind, hope those in Caf competitions get run-outs, the injured to recover fast, and travel restrictions to be eased quickly.

That is Cranes coach Micho Sredojevic’s prayer as the 51-year-old Serb works overtime to address fans fears over which direction the team is taking. 

In the same breath, Micho - while acknowledging the first two 2022 World Cup qualifying matches have been far from inspiring - is calling for patience if the transition of the team is to be successfully managed. 

“Players are not like phones that you touch one button and they instantly work,” said Micho, talking to NTV Press Box and Daily Monitor.

“These are human beings and we are in transition, and mistakes will happen as we continue learning.

“You are facing a Mali midfield of experienced players playing in Uefa Champions League, and we have our boy, Bobosi Byaruhanga, who played the U20 Afcon finals, with them.

“You can’t compare but at the same time, that is the experience you want to give to a young boy we think can go on to dominate that area for next 10 years.”

Tight group
The two draws were, however, helped by as many stalemates by Kenya and Rwanda picking only a point in two matches. 

That has Mali topping Group E on four points, just two ahead of Kenya and Uganda and three adrift of Rwanda.

It remains an open group despite the anxiety amongst Cranes fans, with Uganda next facing Rwanda - first in Kigali and then Kitende early next month.

But what has fans more anxious is the little promise when the referee starts the match. 

Against both Kenya in Nairobi and Mali, Uganda lacked identity, with the Eagles especially bossing them at Kitende, where defender Murushid Juuko’s moment of madness saw the Cranes end with 10 men.

Micho appreciates the anxiety but believes several factors have played part, and hopes Uganda will be a different outfit as qualification progresses.

“The matches against Rwanda are now the most important, and the preparations have already started,” expounded Micho.

“We are going to continue working with the local based players to build onto this.

“Khalid Aucho (Yanga) and Joseph Ochaya (TP Mazembe) are going to be playing in the Caf Champions League matches.

“Emmanuel Okwi (Cranes captain) will also be playing either in South Africa or North Africa, let’s see how that goes, and goalkeeper Robert Odongkara will also have a club.”

Reinforcements 
Daily Monitor understands that informed that Okwi is headed to South African side Chippa United, where goalkeeper Isma Watenga is playing.

“We are also hoping that we shall have our boys from Europe, Bevis Mugabi from Motherwell in Scotland, Edris Lubega in Portugal, Timothy Awany and Fahad Bayo in Israel among others.”

The above were not part of Match Days one and two as the countries they play in consider Uganda a Covid-19 red flag zone.

“We also hope Farouk  Miya, who scored that goal that took us to Gabon Afcon 2017, will have settled after sorting his club movement issues .

“Taddeo Lwanga and Patrick Kaddu, we are confident, will have also recovered from injuries and then we shall see the real Cranes.”

Micho added that after legendary Denis Onyango’s retirement, and the likes of Mike Azira and others active but over-the-hill players, it is important for fans to understand that the team is undergoing transition.

“Yes Fufa president Moses Magogo and us we have a target of 2026 World Cup to qualify, but here we also have a chance to give Qatar our best.

“We shall stretch ourselves humanly possible but let us also not forget that we can only do what we can with what we have. 
“We just have to continue progressively improving and that transition takes time and patience.”

Players regression 
Micho also expressed sadness that several players including Miya, Allan Okello, Moses Waiswa and Okwi himself have regressed.

“Okello is the kind of talented player you look at to pick into the small pockets of spaces behind defenders in number 10 role, but it breaks my heart that it is not happening for him at Paradou (Algeria).

“It is sad that our players continue to fail to hold starting places when they move abroad. That is a question we need to address as a country.”

On his less fancy style of play, according to observers, Micho made it clear that he can only do much with the quality of players available.

“Let’s get the result as we also look for the style. The style will come with time. It’s a process. In five years - maybe I won’t be here - but I want to have a team that will be making waves on the continent.”

Qatar 2022 FIFA WC qualifiers 

Group E fixtures
Match Day 1 results
Mali     1-0     Rwanda
Kenya     0-0     Uganda
Match Day 2 results
Rwanda     1-1     Kenya
Uganda     0-0     Mali
Match Day 3, Oct. 6
Mali     vs     Kenya
Rwanda     vs     Uganda
Match Day 4, Oct. 10
Kenya     vs     Mali
Uganda     vs     Rwanda
Match Day 5, Nov. 11
Uganda     vs     Kenya
Mali     vs     Rwanda
 Match Day 6, Nov.  14
Mali     vs     Uganda
Kenya     vs     Rwanda

Play-offs, March 2022

[email protected]

Advertisement