KAMPALA — A goals drought is threatening Uganda’s national football team, The Cranes, chances of qualifying for a third conservative Africa Cup of Nations finals. If you omit CHAN, which is restricted to home-based players, the Cranes have gone 270+ minutes without scoring a goal. Though our national team is notoriously shy in front of goal, and rarely bludgeons opponents into submission, such an extended barren run is unprecedented and therefore worrisome. How to balance the urge to end this fruitless run without compromising our ability to keep a clean sheet and ensure qualification for the Cameroon 2021 finals, is the principal concern of Cranes tactician Abdallah Mubiru when his team squares up to Malawi Flames on Monday afternoon.
Adrenaline short Cranes must self motivate: Failure to score in successive home games to minnows South Sudan and Burkina Faso is partly explained by the absence of fans at international matches. For years Mandela National Stadium- Namboole has been a slaughterhouse for visiting sides courtesy of a cacophony of noise generated by the tens of thousands of Ugandans who throng Cranes matches. Denied the adrenaline pumping from fans, our players have simply failed to motivate themselves. The Covid-19 precipitated library like atmosphere at the St Mary’s Stadium in Kitende has greatly contributed to lame, lackluster and lackadaisical displays in games against the Sudanese and Burkinabe. Local football governing body Fufa would thus do well to employ a psychologist to give players a crash course in the power of self motivation.
Tactics needed in blantyre: Under no circumstances should the Cranes deploy a high line in Blantyre as our players are neither schooled in executing it, nor blessed with searing recovery pace in case it is breached. In fact, because The Flames aren’t a high scoring side, a sweeper system is preferable while chasing a goalless draw, which should be ensure qualification. Alternatively, despite his early caution against Burkina Faso, Mubiru must retain Tadeo Lwanga to provide a shield for the back four, and to ensure a more compact midfield, the Police FC boss ought to deploy Moses Waiswa in central midfield along with Mike Azira. Abdul Lumala is a luxury the Cranes can’t afford as he is off form and it’s not incumbent upon Uganda to stretch the game.
Experience over novelty: Despite their commanding displays on Wednesday, Ibrahim Olit, Farhad Bayo and Khalid Lwalira should not take precedence over more experienced players. Pressure cooker games like Monday’s clash with Malawi call for the deployment of the most experienced troops available. This calls for vice skipper Farouk Miya, Patrick Kaddu and Emmanuel Okwi to up their game. If the Cranes play a watertight game, avoid the complacency that resulted in a loss to South Sudan or the indiscipline that saw Khalid Aucho needlessly sent off in Nairobi, qualification for Cameroon 2021 will come automatically.