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Uganda 0-0 Tanzania: Understanding Cranes’ Morbid Display

Hassan Wasswa (left) shields the ball away from Tanzania captain Mbwana Samatta during the goalless draw at Namboole

By common consensus, Uganda’s goalless draw with Tanzania in Saturday’s Group L African Nation Cup qualifier is a case of two points dropped, rather than one point gained. With lowly Lesotho holding Cape Verde to an identical result, Cranes’ victory over Taifa Stars could have propelled them to a four point cushion over their nearest rivals.

Even if you factor in the heavy afternoon downpour which rendered a passing game at Namboole’s notoriously fragile turf a nullity, Cranes’ display was lackluster at best; lethargic at worst. Many a fan are privately confiding that they haven’t seen a more lackadaisical Cranes display at Namboole in over a decade. So what went wrong?

Over eight months after assuming the reins from Moses Basena, Cranes coach Sebastian Desabre has clearly yet to get a full grasp of his team’s DNA. The French tactician got his selection terribly wrong, and ended up fielding a defensive side at the Cranes’ Namboole fortress. Dare I say, it’s hard to believe he chose the lineup.

In the midfield anchor role, Denis Iguma was anonymous, overworking the midfield’s only success on the day Moses Waiswa. Iguma was a wrong choice for two reasons. One, he’s primarily a defender, whose main job, if deployed in midfield, is to shield the back four. Otherwise, he’s clueless once he crosses the half way line. Secondly, like Aucho, he wasn’t his usual sharp self. This shows he might be lacking game time at his foreign club. Fufa’s technical team ought to play more attention to which foreign based players are match fit.

The principal reason for the team’s failure to perform was a dysfunctional midfield. Khalid Aucho was a well qualified disaster. A string of failed attempts to join paid ranks in Scotland, South Africa and Egypt have affected his confidence. But it’s his refusal to play for any available club that’s mostly undermining his game. His rusty, ineffectual display on Saturday was obviously a function of lack of game time.

The same could be said of Joseph Ocaya who operated on the left side of a front three. The Zambia based wing-back is not a striker. Period. Deploying him with Iguma and Aucho already in the side smacked of cowardice. It’s as if Uganda, who traditionally torments sides from the Cecafa region, opted for a defensive approach at their Namboole fortress. That’s anathema.

Even worse; Waiswa, Ocaya, Aucho and Iguma had no visible understanding on the pitch. There was no midfield team work whatsoever. You could think they were playing together for the first time. Which they probably were. If I were Desabre, I would only retain Waiswa for next month’s double header against Lesotho. Partnering Waiswa with players who enjoy operating on the front foot like Ibrahim Saddam Juma and Kizito Luwaga, or even Vipers team mate Tadeo Lwanga, is a more sure bet for maximum points from the Crocodiles.

By far the day’s biggest disappointment was deputy skipper Farouk Miya. The FC Gorica forward has not benefited from his move to Europe. His muscles haven’t developed. His speed from a standing start is gone and his eye for goal is no more. Miya is a pale shadow of the teenage prodigy who scored for fun while still based at home.

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