KAMPALA – Uganda Cranes’ 2-0 victory over Lesotho in Maseru on Tuesday night put the national football team on the brink of qualification for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon and taught us one or two things.
Chief among the lessons is that Cranes’ French tactician Sebastian Desabre is getting to grips with the team’s DNA. After chopping and changing his starting line up over the last twelve months, Desabre finally has a good idea of his strongest IX.
Cape Town City wide man Allan Kateregga’s immaculate use of the ball in Lesotho helped Cranes put up their best passing game in a decade. For the first time since Jackson Mayanja retired from national duty, we have a player who can help Cranes put more than ten passes together with regularity. In future it would be prudent to ask Kateregga to move into a more central position behind the strikers. It’s the best way to get maximum mileage from his exceptional ball utilization.
Joseph Ocaya has for too long occupied a position on the left side of midfield without proper justification. He’s neither an accomplished passer, nor an accurate crosser. The TP Mazembe player also has an unproductive habit of hugging the touchline, which denies Cranes compactness in central midfield, while simultaneously impeding Godfrey Walusimbi from making trademark forward forays.
Kateregga’s emergence freed the whole team’s creative instincts. Must admit that prior to Maseru, I had never seen Denis Iguma pass the ball better in the midfield holding role. The only downside to Kateregga’s evening is that he was hauled off for an ineffective Isaac Muleme before completing his passing carousel. Scant surprise the team’s passage of play declined during the final quarter of the game. I would like to see the Cape Town City player feature for the entire ninety minutes.
Desabre’s refusal to start Edrisa Lubega in Maseru in disregard for his performance in Saturday’s 3-0 victory over the Crocodiles shows the Frenchman still considers number nine a problem position. However, Lubega’s replacement in Maseru, Patrick Kaddu, largely anonymous. This implies Lubega, who set up Emmanuel Okwi for Cranes’ third goal, must be allowed to have another crack when Cape Verde visits for the penultimate qualifier next month.
All round, Cranes aficionados who made the trip down South must have felt the 4000km journey was more than justified. Exactly eleven years ago, I was one of the few dozen Ugandans who trooped to Maseru only for the Cranes to be held to a goalless stalemate that ultimately cost the team a place at the 2008 AFCON finals. Better tidings portend this time round.