Micho defends ‘Cranes novices’ for sloppy Tanzania display

Uganda Cranes coach Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic (R) and Cranes prospect Travis Mutyaba. Mutyaba is among 12 young players who were on the Cranes matchday squad against Tanzania | Photo Credit: Courtesy

AFCON 2023 Micho defends ‘Cranes novices’ for sloppy Tanzania display

Shafic Kiyaga 12:33 - 25.03.2023

Speaking after the game, Micho defended his side arguing that there were many novices who had been asked to play against seasoned performers for the Taifa Stars on a neutral ground.

Cranes coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic believes that defeat to Tanzania in their latest Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier shows how far Uganda is from regaining its former glory, but retains faith in the transition.

Uganda produced a sorry and labored performance as they suffered a 1-0 defeat to their neighbours and rivals at the Suez Canal Stadium in Ismailia on Friday evening.

Many expected victory at Uganda’s adopted home ground, that would help get the wheels firmly back on the rail for the 2023 AFCON Qualifying campaign.

Joseph Ochaya’s missed opportunity from close range in the 30th minute was a good as it got for Micho’s side, with Simon Msuva stabbing the winner in the 68th minute.

Speaking after the game, Micho defended his side arguing that there were many novices who had been asked to play against seasoned performers for the Taifa Stars on a neutral ground.

“It was a practically an away game played on a neutral ground as the home team. We chose to play here, and came here prepared very well,” Micho explained.

“We are a team in transition, and when you are in transition, you need to gradually introduce a lot of novices to top level football, like we did today.”

“We played against a back four that has all the players in the quarter finals of the CAF Champions League and Confederations Cup.”

“It was clear how they managed to deal with everything that we tried to throw at them, their organization against our set pieces, and against our attacks,” The Serbian explained.

“We entered the second half with three changes (all from youth side) as we shifted to try and go for the risk, which means you open yourself for counter attacks.”

“In that regard, I was happy with the first half, the way we conducted ourselves, dominated and not allowed the opponent to endanger our goal.”

“In the end, only one ball punished us, even when we threw everything on the field in terms of attacking options and tried out the best, we could not find the answer,” he continued.

Micho made six changes to the team that played against Niger in the previous qualifier eight months ago, with goalkeeper Salim Jamal Magoola making his first start in five years, while Joseph Ochaya also returned to the team after two years.

The changes also saw Siraje Ssentamu start his first game for the Cranes A side, while Aziz Kayondo and Kenneth Ssemakula who played at the U20 AFCON finals in 2021 started in defence.

Micho threw on three substitutes at the start of the second half including Isma Mugulusi, Steven Sserwadda and Richard Basangwa who were among 12 players that have played at the last two editions of the U20 AFCON finals.

Micho has used up to 30 players so far, with only the quartet of captain Emma Okwi, his assistant Khalid Aucho, Farouk Miya and defender Halid Lwaliwa playing in all three games.

A win would have resurrected Uganda’s bid to qualify for the AFCON after missing out on the 2019 edition, but defeat means they face an uphill task to secure qualification.

Uganda is bottom of Group F on only one point, while Tanzania now move second on four points.

Uganda now heads to Dar-es-Salaam on Tuesday following this reality check, but the result in Ismailia certainly offers cause for concern.