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CHAN 2020: What’s beyond the blame game after Uganda’s exit at CHAN

By Brian Aheebwa
Uganda Cranes midfielder Shafik Kagimu (red) vies for the ball with Morocco's Jabrane during the 2020 CHAN finals in Cameroon | Photo Credit: FUFA Media/XtraTimeSports (Darren McKinstry)

A journey that started with the aim of breaking ‘the jinx’ and finally get past the group stages of the African Nations Championship (CHAN), a feat the Uganda Cranes had not achieved before in the previous four attempts, ended in yet another failure.

The Cranes finished rock bottom of Group C with just a single point at the 2020 CHAN in Cameroon, and of course, it was time for ‘the blame game’ mostly amongst the Ugandan football fans, but what’s there beyond the blame game?

With head coach Johnathan McKinstry increasingly becoming one of the most hated persons in Ugandan football circles, of course, there’re many, Football256’s Brian Aheebwa had some former Cranes players at hand who shared views.

Former Uganda Cranes defender and Captain Andy Mwesigwa said

“It’s very unfortunate that we didn’t make it past the group stages yet again.”

“In one way or the other the coach was at fault mostly with the team selection, changing in all the three group games but we shouldn’t dwell on that.”

“Because if he joined in October 2019, 2020 had no football action due to the pandemic, he has roughly been with the team for let’s say five months, definitely he has not mastered his starting eleven.”

“Since he’s still young into his contract give him some time and maybe at the end of his second year, we can start demanding him that much.”

On the other hand, former Uganda Cranes and KCCA FC forward Jackson Mayanja opined

“The technical team has to go back to the drawing board. Some years back when Uganda used to be walloped five to six goals, it was ill preparations but this time around you can’t say the federation didn’t do its job.”

“I, therefore, give them credit because to me they played their part unlike it used to be the case in our times.”

“So McKinstry and his technical staff should seat down do the evaluation because preparations are key and they had it, there were some faults technically which I think should be addressed going forward.”

“One, its always important to identify your key player and in this case, I think it should have been Saidi Kyeyune who scored the goals at the tournament for us, he didn’t rise to the occasion just out of the blue.”

“They had him in the pre-CHAN mini-tournament so not playing him from the word go was wrong.”

Mayanja added: “Two, the first game in a tournament is always important and in the case of this year’s CHAN we were playing Rwanda that was a given but the game was miss handled.”

“Generally, the players we had were good and it was a matter of the technicians playing their cards right but I know a lot will be rectified onwards.”

George Ssimwogerere former Cranes captain on the other hand expounded

“The responsibilities are becoming too many for McKinstry. I, therefore, advise FUFA to relieve him of the CHAN and CECAFA responsibilities, let these tournaments be handled by local coaches.”

“McKinstry should concentrate on the Uganda Cranes senior team and just be an advisor where necessary about tournaments like CHAN and CECAFA.”

Mike Mutyaba who played in the 2020 CHAN qualifiers:

“I think the biggest challenge has been having different teams at every CHAN tournament which is brought about by the poor standards of our own local league.”

“Everyone is always trying to find a way to leave the country and go pro because of the poor salaries mainly.”

“But if our players were earning enough from the teams they play for in the local league then we would find ourselves maintaining the team but that can’t be the case with the players earning less, whoever gets the opportunity just runs way.”

He added: “So, the people concerned about football development in Uganda should focus on professionalising the StarTimes Uganda Premier League so that the players are contented where they are.”

With the Cranes failing to make it out the group for the fifth time in a row, they’ll leave it at that for now and turn their focus to the upcoming AFCON and World Cup qualifiers.

The Cranes who are second in Group B of the AFCON qualifiers will return to action on March 22 against Burkina Faso before they play Malawi on March 30.

In the World Cup qualifiers that get underway in March as well, Uganda is in Group E alongside neighbours Rwanda and Kenya plus West African side Mali.

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