Uganda Cranes midfielder Saidi Kyeyune has praised head coach Johnathan McKinstry’s effort to keep the Cranes camp in Cameroon as the calm after their disappointing performance against Rwanda.
The Cranes had an evening to forget in Douala in their opening game at the 2020 CHAN finals and faced criticism for their performance on Monday.
McKinstry described his team’s first-half performance as ‘quite frustrating for both the technical staff and players’ and that there was no doubt ‘they were below the required level’.
But behind the scenes, the Irishman has tried to shield his players from the hothouse pressure that may come from another poor CHAN performance.
Kyeyune revealed that the coach has tried to check the energy with the squad, imploring them to keep working together and sticking together even when things are not going quite to plan.
“The advice from the coach has always been to stay together as a team, and keep working together for the common goal,” Kyeyune said.
“He calmly tells us to remain focussed and try to win every game that we play in order to rewrite history and perform better.”
“He also makes it clear to us that we need to use the platform presented by a tournament like CHAN to our advantage and try to prove to the world how good we are and maybe we can earn bigger moves.”
McKinstry’s side includes a couple of players who are having their first involvement with the national team, while a number of youngsters are also part of the squad.
Aziz Kayondo, Bobosi Byaruhanga and AbdulKarim Watambala have just celebrated their 20th birthdays, and McKinstry has made it crucial to support them through the feverish atmosphere generated by the expectations.
“He (McKinstry) also helps the young lads that are in camp so much,” Kyeyune explained.
“Of course, I have talked to some of them, and my advice has been that they should try and learn from the older players in the group and also listen as much to what the coach instructs.”
“I implore them to enjoy and savour the moment, because this is their chance, CHAN is an opportunity for them to learn but more importantly prove a couple of scouts who are here,” the midfielder expounded.
Uganda continue their preparations for their second Group game against Togo on Friday.
The Cranes will go again in search of their first victory at the CHAN finals since 2014, and victory could go a long way in improving their chances of progress to the quarter-finals.