Moment of truth

Cranes' assistant captain Aucho must fire up his teammates on a turf he is familiar with. PHOTO/JOHN BATANUDDE 

What you need to know:

Uganda win on Tuesday and they drag themselves back into it - just - with two matches to go. Anything less will send the Cranes to the complex branch of mathematics that intensely studies continuous change

If you didn’t agree with Cranes coach Micho Sredojevic’s calls in that defeat to Tanzania last Friday, you will be pleased that he at least concurs with you on the problems exposed in the game.

The hope, now, for him - and you - is that the problems he pointed out himself are addressed before Uganda step out at the National Stadium, Dar es Salaam for arguably Cranes definitive Afcon qualifier on Tuesday.

“There were things that we did and were wrong, “admitted the Serb, “especially dealing with the balls from the wings, where they (Tanzania) managed to get in that one cross that hurt us.”

Uganda conceded after Dismas Novatus put in a quality cross from the right that Simon Happygod Msuva happily, pardon the pun, drilled home from close range for Tanzania’s 1-0 victory in Ismailia, Egypt.

No room for error

That left Uganda bottom of Group F on a single point with no goals scored in three matches.

Failure to win today will send the Cranes to the complex branch of mathematics that intensely studies continuous change, otherwise simply called calculus.

Algeria top the group on nine points after three straight victories, with Tanzania on four and Niger on one. Only the top two teams will qualify.

“On our side,” added Micho, “we have to improve effectiveness in front of goal from open play and from set pieces.

Something has to give

“We need to have much better service delivery in the final third, because there is not so much we can change in terms of approach for that game.” 

Yes, Micho! You can still tweak the approach to a more positive one. And now that you have outlined the ills, it is time to send out a starting XI that communicates and follows through with the intention.

One that, for example, ensures “much better service delivery in the final third” as well as limits losing discipline to suffer as they did in the build-up to Msuva’s goal.

Micho’s line-up and instructions will give a clearer picture of whether he has learned nothing and forgot nothing, or he got his puzzle filled. Of course it comes with challenges. 

Balancing act

And the challenge for Micho, well remembered for leading Uganda from a 39-year Afcon obscurity in 2016, is that this being a home game for a fairly good Tanzania with 60,000 fans behind them, he will still have to play a balancing act.

He will risk being overrun if he commits too much, yet he cannot be seen to again field two defensive midfielders and an extra defender in midfield on top of that. 

Nonetheless, changes will have to be made because you cannot do the same thing over and over and expect different results, unless you want to be called what Albert Einstein referred to. 

How they could line up

Salim Jamal should keep his place in goal, with Joseph Ochaya coming back to his natural left back position, both for seniority and experience as compared to Aziz Kayondo.

Kenneth Ssemakula may retain his place at right back, but it is in the central defensive pairing Micho may have a decision to make. 

Does he keep Livingstone Mulondo and Halid Lwaliwa, or does he drop the former for a more experienced Timothy Awany, who did not play at all on Friday?

Khalid Aucho is the first name on the team in midfield. It is who partners him that Micho will have to ponder on. 

An Aucho, Bbobosi Byaruhanga and Isma Mugulusi midfield three would create some beautiful anticipation if Micho dares it, but the Serb might instead add Siraje Ssentamu in there to keep it tighter.

That would mean he goes with two strikers with skipper Emmanuel Okwi, Fahad Bayo and Steven Mukwala, or even Faruku Miya, the options.

Micho even has creative options of Allan Okello and Travis Mutyaba to fix in the final third. That would be a good fantasy surprise but don’t bet much on it.

Again, Tanzania captain Mbwana Samatta will be on the Cranes mind as they plan, so will Msuva. A long evening awaits!

Uganda Cranes probable XI

Salim Jamal, Timothy Awany, Halid Lwaliwa, Kenneth Ssemakula, Joseph Ochaya, Khalid Aucho, Siraje Ssentamu, Bobosi Byaruhanga, Isma Mugulusi, Emmanuel Okwi, Fahad Bayo


Nafian Alionzi, Charles Lukwago, Rogers Torach, James Begisa Penz, Livingstone Mulondo, Aziz Kayondo, Rogers Mugisha, Rogers Mato Rogers, Travis Mutyaba, Gavin Kizito, Steven Sserwadda, Steven Mukwala, Richard Basangwa 

Tanzania XI vs Uganda in Ismailia: Aishi Manula (GK), Dickson Job, Novatus Dismas, Bakari Mwamnyeto, Ibrahim Bacca, Himid Mao, Yassin Mzamiru, Mudathir Yahya, Said Khamis, Mbwana Samatta ©, Simon Happygod Msuva


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