The Uganda Men’s national football team, the Cranes suffered their maiden loss in the 2021 AFCON qualifiers on Monday as they went down 1-0 to minors South Sudan.
After a lucky escape four days prior as the Cranes scrapped past the Bright Stars in Kitende, this time round, it was the South Sudanese who prevailed.
Just like on Thursday, Johnathan McKinstry’s side struggled throughout the 90 minutes, creating just a handful of goal scoring chances.
Speaking after the game, McKinstry said that the team was not good enough to win the contest and the responsibility for the loss falls on him as a coach.
“Ultimately we were not good enough. He said when asked why the team lost.
“That is very simple and i take full responsibility as a coach. We plan for the games, we train and the players do their best along with the coaching staff, to try and implement the game plan that i set for them and we have just not been good enough.
“I have to go back and look at what i am doing and make sure that we give the players what they need in order to go out there and perform.”
McKinstry has of late come under a lot of criticism for his team selection and the inability for the Cranes to dominate and create several goal scoring opportunities during matches.
On Monday, midfielder Khalid Aucho was sent off in the 33rd minute but even before going a man down, they were struggling to assert their authority onto a South Sudan side that is only 8 years old, in football.
In the second half, the team switched to a back three and it is then that they managed to create in the final third, including Faruku Miya’s free kick that rattled the bar.
“Its hard to talk about the tactics but even before the red card, we were not moving the ball fast enough and that was a key thing.
“After the red card, you have to change things around and in the second half, we went to three at the back which is something that Uganda has never really played and i think the boys did everything they could, hit the cross bar and created one or two other chances but i am ultimately responsible for what the players do.
“I know they work hard to try and put on a show that people want but today we fell short and have to go back and we all look at our selves and if something positive comes out of this result and this performance, we try to take advantage of it.”
In the build up to the current international window, the Cranes held a four-day training camp in Dubai while their opponents were in Turkey playing several high-profile build up games.
The camp was highly criticised back home but McKinstry insists that the team prepared in the best possible way.
“We took this match seriously, prepared well and no body can say we were casual about our preparations but we did not get the result we wanted and would like to congratulate South Sudan.
“We did good scouting and technical and tactical analysis about South Sudan and all their players the same way we would look like Burkina Faso, Egypt or Nigeria and we did not change the way we would prepare for any other opponent.
“I understand that if you get a result like this for Uganda, it is not good enough and we know that and we have to apologize to the people back at home in Uganda but our preparations were just like any other game and the result was not good enough.
“Uganda as a footballing nation has huge talent and the players are passionate enough and you are starting to see more and more players go and play at high levels of the game but we need to make sure we take advantage of that and maximize their impact.”
The result means Uganda now drops to second place on the standings, a point adrift of Burkina Faso who were held to a 0-0 draw away to Malawi on the same day.
Burkina Faso’s inability to win is something that Uganda should take as ‘good luck’ according to the North Irishman.
“We have to consider our selves lucky because of the result in the other game.
“We are still there in the conversation but we have two huge games now.
“We could have been on life-support if the result in the other game had gone badly for us.
“I am sure these guys are gona fight back, i am gona fight back because in football you lose games sometimes but we have to take the lessons and do better.
“Me and the coaching staff have to ensure we go out there and win the games that ensure we complete the task at hand.”
Uganda’s next fixture in the AFCON qualifiers will be at home to Burkina Faso in March 2021 before ending the campaign away to Malawi, days later.