Caf Champions League representatives Express were expected to wallow in self pity on Friday when deprived of the usual dugout exhortations of inspiration coach Wasswa Bbosa.
The man-managing gaffer was banished to the stands at St Mary’s Stadium-Kitende for lacking the required Caf coaching papers but still Express gallantly prevailed 2-1over Sudanese visitors Al Merrikh.
In his absence, deputy and former Red Eagles workaholic midfielder James Odoch frantically prowled the the technical area with vigour and command.
“It wasn’t a very tall order since we had planned all the moves before. Everything I did was executed according to the script we had done with coach Bbosa, “ Odoch told Daily Monitor.
To meet the Caf demand of having a Caf A licensed coach on the bench, Express hastily ‘hired’ veteran coach Simon Kirumira who remained silently glued to his seat throughout the match.
Odoch, also a Caf B licence holder like his boss, emphatically ran the show, shouting orders, making protestations and tactical changes.
“Coach Bbosa gave the pep talk at halftime in the dressing room since he was monitoring the match with less pressure.He pointed at the changes we needed to make to kill off the contest and thank God, it worked,” Odoch revealed.
In between goals by Eric Kambale and Martin Kizza, Merrikh got a lifeline with Bakri Elgadir’s lucky flick on the back of loss of focus by the Red Eagles.
“ I told the boys not to lose their heads and blow the game we had control over.Merrikh plays a 3-5-2 system that gives midfielders an opportunity to release the wingers at pace so any slight mistake could be punished,” Odoch added.
He says their game plan in Saturday’s return leg in Khartoum is to completely close out the opponents and then hope for the vital away goal.
Caf Champions League - First leg result
Express 2-1 Al Merrikh
Return leg September 17
Al Merrikh vs. Express