1. Cranes are better than we think.
Uganda Cranes are not in the running for a World Cup place by mistake. The 15th place ranking is premised on years of consistency. It’s about time we give Cranes’ current crop of players their due respect. Even in defeat, Cranes acquitted themselves well. In years gone by, when we supposedly had superior players, we were getting stuffed 5-0 and 6-0.
2. The math hasn’t changed.
On Tuesday morning, Cranes needed two victories. They still do. A much improved Ghana dispatched Congo Brazzaville, courtesy of some inspired striking from Thomas Partey and Richmond Boakye. On October 5, Moses Basena’s charges must therefore play our ultra A game to tame the three time World Cup representatives. Victory over already eliminated Congo Brazzaville won’t be easy either.
3. Onyango is Africa’s best.
It fills me with an immense sense of pride to know that Cranes skipper Denis Onyango is easily the continent’s best custodian. That first half triple save is reminiscent of Gordon Banks leaping to his right to save a Pele header. Onyango is Uganda’s best ever custodian by country miles.
4. Change is a necessity.
Coach Basena shouldn’t be afraid of making changes to further tweak the Cranes sharpness. Ghana Black Stars supremo Kwesi Appiah showed how it can be done by dumping underperforming stars Andre Ayew, Jordan Ayew and Asamoah Gyan. I think William Luwaga has earned a right to start ahead of Joseph Ochaya on October 5. His understanding with Godfrey Walusimbi is telepathic and he is the one Cranes player capable of beating opponents. Hand him a start.
5. What is wrong with Denis Guma?
Lebanon based Guma ranks high in seniority over Nicholas Wadada, who was at fault for Egypt’s goal. Yet he hasn’t got a look in. Could there be something we don’t know? Vipers right back Wadada made a monumental error by trying to drive past an Egyptian striker right in his penalty box. It was from his conceded possession that Cranes conceded, rendering him a nervous wreck for the rest of the game.
6. Cranes need better referee.
Although he didn’t stop Cranes from putting the ball past El Hadary, referee Victor Miguel de Freitas Gomes was a ‘menace’. He kept ignoring bookable offences from the Pharaohs, handing them a psychological edge, and dampening our boys’ spirits. Egypt’s right back Ibrahim was particularly guilty of repeatedly fouling Daniel Nsibambi and Farouk Miya. Little wonder they failed to shine. We need better refs at Namboole and in Brazzaville.
7. Develop killer instinct.
From where I was watching, there was a collective sigh of despondency when Farouk Miya chose to pass a free kick to Godfrey Walusimbi in the very last minute of the match. I still can’t wrap my mind around what thought process informed his indecision. Luwaga was also guilty of overindulgence when he could have tested Mohammed El Hadary. Shooting on sight, and from distance ought to be part of the coaching menu.
8. Home advantage nullified.
Of eight qualifiers played on Tuesday night, Egypt were the only home team to win. Elsewhere, continental heavyweights Ivory Coast fell to Gabon 1-2 in their own backyard, Cape Verde won by a similar margin in South Africa, Zambia topped Algeria 1-0 in Algiers and Ghana won 5-1 in Brazzaville. Meanwhile, DR Congo were pegged back after taking a 2-0 lead over Tunisia whereas Senegal held Burkina Faso 2-2. These results serve as a warning for Cranes not to take Ghana for granted. In order to win, we must operate at full throttle.
9. More pace required.
Cranes are a technically gifted outfit. They are way up there with Africa’s best in organisational ability. However, in the cold light of day, with technical margins so thin, it’s easy for two sides to cancel each other out. The difference between success and failure then lies on details like execution of deal balls and pace. In Algiers, Zambia showed dividends incessant pressing, harrying and hard running can yield. As a Plan B, we need a player who can hurt opposition with his sheer turn of pace - a tekayo tugenda kind of guy. At present, we don’t have one.
10. Give technical team time.
Regardless of whether Uganda qualifies for the Russia 2018 finals or not, the dynamic quartet of Moses Basena, Ibrahim Sekagya, Matia Lule and Fred Kajoba ought to be given more time to fine tune their thing. The word ‘caretaker’ must be expunged from the coaches if we are to get the best out of them. Of course, we expect them to mastermind victories over Ghana and Congo Brazzaville. But judging them over such a brief spell at the helm would be short termism at its height.
At the very least, they must be in charge of our African Nations Championship challenge.