NextGen put up lackluster exhibition

The Cranes started on a losing note, falling 2-0 to Algeria in the capital Algiers on Saturday to end the first round of games bottom of Group F with no points.

What you need to know:

  • Since coach Micho Sredojevic returned to the Uganda Cranes fold on July 29 last year, he has preached revamping and a total overhaul of the national team.

Uganda Cranes’ sluggish 2-0 loss away to Algeria on Saturday cast a gloomy future for the national team.

Since coach Micho Sredojevic returned to the Uganda Cranes fold on July 29 last year, he has preached revamping and a total overhaul of the national team.

After a botched World Cup qualifying campaign last year, Micho begged for more time in the kitchen to prepare a sumptuous meal for the hungry Ugandan football fans.

The pre-match anticipation that greeted Micho’s first XI in the first qualifying game for Afcon 2023 finals against Algeria was untold.

It was replaced with anxiety when the Serb, with bravado, granted rookies Marvin Youngman and Garvin Kizito starting berths against the two-time African champions.

To emphasise his team reconstruction, Micho started Vipers’ Milton Kalisa, Paradou’s Allan Okello, and later opted for Steven Sserwadda, Martin Kizza, and Derrick Kakooza.

First, the blend with the tried and tested Faruku Miya, Emmanuel Okwi, Khalid Aucho, Isaac Muleme, Bevis Mugabi, and Charles Lukwago failed at its inception. Doubts lingered on the aforementioned experienced players’ reproachable output and choice to start.

UPL boys humbled

From the deep end of the pond, Villa defender Kizito was the perfect picture of a lethargic Cranes in Algiers – basically good at nothing. His confidence in the Uganda Premier League (UPL) deserted him when he was turned inside out by Youcef  Belaili a couple of times.

Belaili made Kizito look half-baked in the run up to the hosts’ second goal. Kizito was a representative of the supposed

growth the Under-20 Afcon finalists were destined to have by now.

Soltilo Bright Stars midfielder Youngman, the latest invention at the Cranes, was given a rude welcome to high level football when he was submerged by Algeria’s midfield trident of Ramiz Zerrouki, Ismaël Bennacer and Adem Zorgane.

His intended partnership with Aucho and Okello never materialised as Cranes were on the back foot throughout the game.

Youngman has been earmarked as the next  national team midfield enforcer after the departure of Tony Mawejje which attracted a couple of questions.

To many pundits, Cranes lost the game the moment they lost the midfield battle to the hosts. Okello, presumably the team’s creative fulcrum and a student of Algerian football, chased shadows and at times looked out of position, and out of depth.

Little wonder he was the first to be subbed off at half time.

For five years now, there has been an insatiable craving to give the former KCCA starlet the creative baton to solve the Cranes attacking woes.

His surrogates, Kizza and Sserwadda, offered no remedy in their cameo roles.

Kakooza was supposed to push absent Fahad Bayo and Muhammad Shaban for the striking role but his performance begged more time to become the player many dream of him.

The work is clearly cut for Micho ahead of Wednesday’s clash with Niger at St Mary’s Stadium: throw caution to the wind and bust.

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