Soccer. The Frenchman, almost rightly so, argues that what comes off as Uganda Cranes’s weakness could actually prove their strength
A great goalkeeper can arguably win you titles. But the scenario can drastically change when your best and most trusted player is a goalkeeper. While he can inspire with some match saving saves, he might do little to change things upfront.
Uganda are not far from that setting as they enter their 2019 Total Africa Cup of Nations finals in Egypt well aware that skipper Denis Onyango is that special man.
This is not to discredit the Cranes, who finished top of their group to qualify for the finals with a match to spare. They have top scorer with three qualifying goals in Faruku Miya, who – it has to be said – is far from the player that lit the game in Gabon 2017 qualification.
In the mood
Emmanuel Okwi and Joseph Ochaya also have some good mileage from their Caf Champions League engagements, while Khalid Aucho’s tenacity in the middle of the park has never been doubted and Patrick Kaddu finished the season in the mood at KCCA.
Yet, it remains inescapable that Cranes start the campaign against dangerman Cedric Bakampu and Yannick Bolasie-inspired DRC without that player that you can mention and opponents shake out of their bottoms.
Former Cranes coach Moses Basena hinted on the subject while appearing on NTV Press Box on Monday.
“We have that player but he is a goalkeeper,” said Basena, whose Cranes side beat Egypt 1-0 at Namboole in the 2018 World Cup qualification. He was in charge in the interim after Micho Sredojevic had thrown in the towel.
“Denis can make that crucial save but our problem,” added Basena, “And most of African teams problem, has always been in the final third. But as a unit, we prevail in adversity. We are good.”
Sebastien Desabre is the man in charge now. He agrees with Basena but also brings an interesting angle to the equation.
Blessing in disguise
The Frenchman, almost rightly so, argues that what comes off as Uganda’s weakness could actually prove their strength.
“Today,” he told the Daily Monitor, “My priority is to be in cohesion with my players. We are not ranked at the same level of some big teams in Africa but our quality is good.
“We don’t have those very big players but we are very good as a unit. I have asked my boys to take the chance to show that Uganda is a good team and we have good players.
“A lot of people talk about how good we are in defending, which is true, but we also have knowledge in offensive.
“I have asked my boys to have confidence in creating some things (upfront) because we have to enjoy these things.”
The Cranes continued their preparations in Abu Dhabi, with a friendly against Ivory Coast tomorrow strong on their minds.
Uganda, who drew 0-0 with Turkmenistan in a friendly , are pooled in Group A at Afcon finals, with a battle against DRC coming first on June 22 before wrapping the opening stage of the tournament with Zimbabwe and hosts Egypt.
2019 TOTAL AFRICA CUP OF NATIONS
A: Egypt, DR Congo, Uganda, Zimbabwe
B: Nigeria, Guinea, Mad’scar, Burundi
C: Senegal, Algeria, Kenya, Tanzania
D: Morocco, I.Coast, S. Africa, Namibia
E: Tunisia, Mali, Mauritania, Angola
F: Cameroon, Ghana, Benin, G. Bissau
Cranes Afcon fixtures
June 22: Uganda vs. DR Congo,
June 26: Uganda vs. Zimbabwe,
June 30: Egypt vs. Uganda,
UAE camp (May 27-June 17)
June 15: Cranes vs. Ivory Coast