The Uganda U20 men’s football national team, the Hippos’ head coach Morley Byekwaso has come out to blame his side’s failure to defeat Sudan on nature.
The Hippos threw away a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 with their Sudanese counterparts at the Pece Stadium in Gulu on Wednesday afternoon.
Steven Sserwadda and Bright Anukani put Byekwaso’s side 2-0 up but two strikes inside the last 16 minutes of the game, by Sudan ensured the contest ends all square.
The result means that Uganda finished third on the group A log and only managed to qualify for the quarter finals as one of two best third placed teams in the competition.
Speaking after the game, Byekwaso thanked his side but also lauded Sudan.
“I would like to thank the boys for the input they invested into the game, noted Byekwaso.
“The boys fought so hard so as to win, tried out several strategies due to their style of play, so as to overcome them but in the end it would just not be. They capitalized on their chances and they literally took the day.
“They came with a direct approach towards us and used their height advantage to hurt us.”
Sudan scored their goals off set-pieces, ensuring that they imposed their physical on to Uganda.
The first came off a corner in the 76th minute before another one minute from time via the same setting.
“Both of their goals came via set plays and we could not do anything about it, continued the former KCCA FC midfielder.
“It is something that we should look at in future so as we try to balance our team in height and weight because it is what caused us the issues against Sudan.”
The Hippos have exhibited great attacking tendencies throughout the group stages, scoring a total of 8 goals in three game.
They will feel they should have scored more after missing a host of opportunities especially in the first two games against Eritrea and Djibouti.
With an array of attacking talent at his disposal, Byekwaso can sit and relax as he is sure his team will continue creating chances and probably score more goals.
However, at the other end, the Hippos have been letting in goals too.
They have conceded four so far and at least once in each of the three games played.
Speaking about his team consistently conceding, this is what Byekwaso had to say;
“All teams have strength and weaknesses.
“Our strength is about attacking but we are trying so much to have compactness in defence.
“Unfortunately we are deprived of physic but i am optimistic the issue will be sorted in the future.”
It would be easy for someone to think that Uganda should scrap their style of play to accommodate better defending but Byekwaso does not agree.
“We will not sacrifice our attacking approach in the name of trying to defend better.
“We will continue trying to impose our style because at the end of the day, the best way to defend is by attacking.”
“We have tried to adjust our game according to the opposition and in the first half against Sudan, it worked but like i said, we could not fight nature and that is why we conceded the two goals.”
Uganda is the defending champions of the CECAFA U20 after winning the last edition in 2010. With that tag coming alongside their name, they are clearly under pressure to defend their crown.
However, Byekwaso claims the only pressure that the team faces comes from being the host nation.
“We are naturally under pressure because the tournament is at home and not that we are defending champions.”
The Hippos have earned a lot of praise before and during the tournament especially due to the fact that they have ‘a lot’ of talent at their disposal.
With many of them having gone through the FUFA Junior League and some taking part in the 2019 U20 Africa Cup of Nations, a lot is expected of them.
They will however have to balance their play between attacking and defending if they are to win the CECAFA U20 crown for a 5th time in history
Their next assignment will be against South Sudan in the quarter finals.