What you need to know:
Just as vexing was Uganda’s failure to use its numerical advantage to overwhelm Somalia. Chances carved out by Cranes players during the second half in whose entirety their opponents played a man less were few and far between.
After two competitive matches and barely a month in the Cranes dugout, it would be unwise to size up the impact of Paul Put's directing hand.
The Belgian tactician went into the international break keen to claim preeminence after his recent appointment brought with it glitz (thanks in no small part to his expatriate backroom staff) as well as distraction (thanks to the 67-year-old’s brush with the law on account of match-fixing accusations).
Mindful that his appointment provoked widespread revulsion in Uganda, Put went about business by combining toughness with a tender heart.
By so doing, he succeeded, if only, in imposing a modicum of order on a Cranes outfit that last featured in the Africa Cup of Nations or Afcon finals in 2019.
Uganda has never figured at the Fifa World Cup finals. Their latest attempt to break the duck started with a last-gasp defeat at the hands of Guinea and a marginal win against Somalia.
Both matches were staged in Morocco and will go down in the annals as away fixtures for the Cranes.
While there were signs that betrayed an underlying unease, sections of Cranes fans have admitted to being enthralled and—reluctantly—seduced by Put's attention to small details. As has this column.
The redeployment of Kenneth Semakula from defence to midfield articulates, perhaps, the Belgian's desire to be on the front foot.
By condemning Jamal Salim Magoola to the substitutes' bench, Put also showed that a player is only as good as their last performance.
This came hot on the heels of the South African-based net-minder piling one clanger on the back of another during a heartbreaking 2-1 loss at the hands of Guinea.
While dropping the metaphorical axe on Magoola was as clear an indication as anyone could have hoped for, Put is both protected and challenged by the existing state of affairs. When Denis Onyango hung his international gloves, the Cranes were always bound to hit unexpected speed bumps as indeed they have.
Magoola is easily the least bad option, but he has not covered himself in glory in recent times. In the event that such a situation pans out, the choice to put an arm around the player’s shoulder is one of two feasible options.
The other option, which Put went with, is to shake things up, aware that the future could be increasingly precarious if the replacement also blows hot and cold. Or worse do a shabbier job.
Since Somalia—moreover one whittled down to ten men—is anything but a handy barometer, Ismail Watenga cannot claim to have locked down the position between the sticks. Such changeability in a vital position does not bode well for
Put and his richly-assembled backroom staff of expatriates, goalkeeping coach included. The need to establish a dead certain No.1 cannot be emphasised enough.
Just as vexing was Uganda’s failure to use its numerical advantage to overwhelm Somalia.
Chances carved out by Cranes players during the second half in whose entirety their opponents played a man less were few and far between.
This (creating chances), if it needs to be spelt out, is a historical problem. And since Put has not in his possession a magic wand, the Belgian should not be expected to pull a rabbit out of the hat.
What the Belgian can put right is ensuring that he comes up with a blueprint that national coaches wielding the reins in age grade football must follow to the letter.
This will, hopefully, help establish a footballing culture that will be unblushingly embraced. Short of that, the Cranes will either stumble to wins, at best, or reap the whirlwind, at worst.