Same old! What next for Cranes?

Uganda Cranes failed, again. PHOTO/COURTSEY 

What you need to know:

While calls for Micho, who a growing number argue is not the right man for the job, have been increasing, Fufa have been consistent he is the man for the task. And with Afcon qualifiers resuming in March, it's unlikely there will be any changes 

Uganda continue to lack that finishing touch to complete the job as witnessed, again, in Sunday night's 3-1 defeat to Ivory Coast in Algeria. 

Moses Waiswa's well taken penalty was sandwiched between three brilliantly executed Ivorian goals as Uganda exited the African Nations Championship (Chan) at the group stage for the sixth successive edition.

Like it was in South Africa some eight years ago, Uganda again found themselves in a privileged position after the first two matches.

A hard-earned goalless draw against two time champions, DRC, and a huge 1-0 win over Senegal saw them swagger into the final group game against Ivory Coast topping the group on four points. 

Then at South Africa 2014, an opening 2-1 victory over Burkina Faso - Yunus Sentamu scoring Uganda's goals - and a goalless draw with Zimbabwe had also seen the Cranes enter the final group game topping with four points.

On all occasions, all the Cranes needed was a draw to advance to the quarterfinals or a win to top the group. They failed on both.

And on both occasions coach Micho Sredojevic, who - by the way remains the only coach to manage four points in the six Cranes appearances - was in charge.

Mixed feelings, Micho's future

“It is difficult to accept this result," said Micho, who has now led Uganda to three unsuccessful Chan tournaments, after the defeat to Ivory Coast.

"We dominated the game in terms of statistics, but in terms of goals we were not efficient."

According to Caf match statistics, Ivory Coast had 56 per cent of the ball, with Uganda shooting at goal 14 times, two more than the Elephants.

Both sides shot on target six times, with Ivory Coast converting three against one. 

Despite the exit, Micho emphasized there were some positives to hang on. 

"We played a good match and our players gave everything they had," added the Serbian, who is in his second stint as Uganda coach. 

"We played three tough matches and this will benefit us in the future."

Whether Micho will be part of that future remains to be seen.

While there are widespread calls for him to leave the job, his employers, Fufa, have been consistent that he is the man for the job. 

And with Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers resuming with a double header against Tanzania in just over a month's time, it  is likely Micho will still be on. 

“We attacked well and had several chances, but football is like this sometimes," added Micho, "You unfortunately cannot score at every attempt.

"The good thing is that we created chances in the match, but conceding three goals was our downfall.”

Efficient Ivorians  

Coming into this game bottom of the group and with no goals scored in two matches, Ivory Coast knew it was either a victory or they were home. They shot for the former. 

Forward Sankara Karamoko put them ahead on 12 minutes with a diving header from a well-taken Constant Wayou freekick on the right.

And as Uganda tried to rally back, Cirille Ande released Vignon Ouotro with a defence-splitting pass, the latter brilliantly lifting the ball over an otherwise impressive Nafian Alionzi in the Cranes goal on 27 minutes.

Rogers Mato then earned the Cranes a penalty when he dragged Ande into the box and forced him into a challenge.

Midfielder Waiswa stepped forward and sent a powerful shot past Ivory Coast goalkeeper Ayayi Folly on 31 minutes to give Uganda renewed hope. 

After the break, a move involving skipper Milton Karisa and exciting substitute Travis Mutyaba ended with Mato tamely shooting at Folly.

As Uganda pushed for a leveller, they left spaces at the back. It cost them.

One of Karamoko's explosive runs stretched Uganda's defence, allowing the forward to release unmarked Aubin Kouame Kramo inside the box, the latter emphatically making it 3-1 on 78 minutes.

Seventeen-year-old Mutyaba, whose glimpses of brilliance were clear to see when he came on after half time, had one more moment to display his abilities.

But the diminutive number 10's beautifully curled freekick on 89 minutes could only crash off the upright.

Ivory Coast, who progressed because of a better head-to-head record with Uganda, will now face hosts Algeria in the quarterfinals while the Cranes return home.

Chan 2022 Algeria 

Results 

Uganda 1-3 Ivory Coast

Senegal 3-0 DRC

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