Micho wants to top group

Micho is taking no chances. PHOTO/EDDIE CHICCO 

What you need to know:

The Cranes top Group B on four points after two matches, with Senegal, DRC and Ivory Coast on three, two and one respectively. Uganda face Ivory Coast, who drew goalless with DRC midweek, tonight knowing victory will guarantee them top spot. 

Uganda Cranes went to the seventh edition of the African Nations Championship (Chan) in Algeria with maiden progression from the group the primary target. 

But after picking only the country's only second win in 17 Chan matches, a 1-0 victory over fancied Senegal on Wednesday, Cranes coach Micho Sredojevic now wants to go for the top spot. Why not?

"We need to critically look at the ticks so that we properly prepare for the match against Ivory Coast. We are having a chance to be the first team in the group," Micho told the media in Annaba after skipper Milton Karisa's goal downed the Senegalese.

The Cranes top Group B on four points after two matches, with Senegal, DRC and Ivory Coast on three, two and one respectively.

Uganda face Ivory Coast, who drew goalless with DRC midweek, tonight knowing victory will guarantee them top spot. 

All scenarios possible

The top two teams in the group qualify to the quarterfinals.

"All scenarios are available," Micho added, rather cautiously, "we can be (finish) first, second or go home. 

"So as a mature leader, I need to keep the players grounded and not fly high in the sky.

"Football is like fish. Any moment it could flip out of your hands. 

"So building on this momentum, we need to do so much, playing against Ivory Coast, getting a result and qualifying to the quarterfinals. That is our strategic target."

Micho, who also guided Uganda to their first win in Chan, a 2-1 win over Burkina Faso at the 2014 South Africa edition, added…

Avoid Algeria

"But in the same moment, one extra target (of finishing top of the group) is to avoid home team Algeria, where we play against the crowd and the players on the field.

"Therefore, everything is in our hands." Algeria are primed to top Group A after winning their two opening games.

The Serbian was, however, also quick to remind Ugandans that it will not be easy against the Ivorians.

"Ivory Coast has one point after two matches but results have not reflected the amount of quality in their team. So we need to prepare well."

Once beaten...

He knows better. Uganda picked four points in their first two games in South Africa some seven years ago.

A draw against Morocco in the final game would have seen the Cranes progress. They lost that one and came back home. 

It should, however, be pointed out that this particular unit seems more bonded. 

Solid Nafian Alionzi in goal whose penalty save against 10-man Senegal kept the Cranes in the game, and a back four that is yet to concede a goal give some confidence.

Kenneth Ssemakula also got a starting nod on Wednesday ahead of Karim Watambala in midfield and ended up with a Man of the Match accolade. He created Karisa's winner.

Skipper Karisa himself is expected to continue leading from the front, with target man Frank Ssebuufu and Rogers Mato completing the front three.

But the Cranes will have to be at their disciplined best against a side that also has a fighting chance to progress.

Uganda and Ivory Coast's only meeting in this tournament was in 2018 in Morocco. It ended goalless, with the Cranes eliminated in the group. 

Chan 2022 Algeria 

Sunday

Uganda vs. Ivory Coast, 10pm

Senegal vs. DRC, 10pm

Monday

Sudan vs. Madagascar, 10pm

Uganda vs Ivory Coast head-to-head

Games won:    1

Games drawn: 2

Games lost:    2

Matches

Jan 16, 1968: Ivory Coast 2-1 Uganda, Afcon finals

Mar 4, 1974: Ivory Coast 2-2 Uganda, Afcon finals 

Jan 11, 2017: Ivory Coast 3-0 Uganda, Friendly

Jan 22, 2018: Uganda 0-0 Ivory Coast, Chan finals

Jun 15, 2019: Ivory Coast 0-1 Uganda, Friendly

Uganda Cranes probable XI: Alionzi Nafian (GK), James Begisa, Derrick Ndahiro, Gift Fred, Kenneth Ssemakula, Geoffrey Wasswa, Marvin Youngman, Moses Waiswa, Frank Ssebuufu, Rogers Mato, Milton Karisa

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