The Uganda Cranes head coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic was full of gratitude for his side’s defensive prowess that saw them register a fourth clean sheet in four Group E 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign games.
Micho made the remarks in the aftermath of their dismal 1-0 home victory against the Amavubi Stars of Rwanda, a showdown that took centre stage on Sunday, October 10 at St. Mary’s Stadium, Kitende.
It was also the second successive win against the same opponent within the same week, with the first coming as early as Thursday, October 7, at the Nyamirambo Stadium in Kigali.
“We are extremely proud to be amongst the only three teams that are yet to concede a goal but most importantly, we are happy about our eight points,” Micho said before adding.
“It was a difficult game against a very good team but our advantage was scoring at the right time, although the second half was a bit disappointing because the players deeply sat back and allowed the opponent several setpieces.”
Only two teams have managed to register four successive clean sheets across the entire ten groups that make up the competition so far, Uganda and Group E comrades Mali. Morocco have three in three.
In a repeat of the Thursday events, the second leg provided more or less the same script as Fahad Bayo proved the hero yet again, scoring the only goal of the game in the 22nd minute to keep the hopes of advancing to the final qualification round alive for the pearl of Africa.
“The approach after taking the lead is always to be subconscious in order to manage the game and see out a win but that is supposed to be done by defending much higher and possessing the ball, instead they dropped back allowing the opponent to dominate,” Micho noted.
With the final group games seemingly on the horizon (coming up next month), the Serbian reiterated his confidence in his team’s inability to succumb to pressure.
“We have indeed been in such a situation of crucial last matches before and we shall therefore only need to grind on and keep the character of a winning team no matter the situation.”
“From now onwards, what we are looking at as the technical team are the two remaining fixtures and how we can navigate through them in order to make the final qualification round,” the former Amavubi Stars tactician concluded.
With this window of qualification matches concluded and foreign players returning to their respective clubs as the local league also prepares to kickoff, Micho and his technical team will have a job of focusing on the lads and their development.
This they will do while keeping in mind that Uganda’s next tie will be yet another East African derby against Kenya at Kitende on November 10 before travelling away to Morocco to lockhorns with the group leaders Mali in the final game of the campaign on November 13.
Mali still sit top of the group with 10 points, the Cranes follow with eight while Kenya and Rwanda are third and fourth on two points and one respectively.
Both Kenya and Rwanda have had their World Cup qualification dreams completely shattered after their successive losses to Mali and Uganda respectively. They will aim to merely finish their qualification games.
The teams that will lead their respective ten groups at the time of conclusion to the qualifiers will take part in a two-legged playoff that is geared towards bringing five countries to represent Africa in the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup.
How they lined up
Uganda Cranes: Charles Lukwago (GK), Enock Walusimbi, Denis Iguma(c), Aziz Kayondo, Isaac Muleme, Timothy Awany, Taddeo Lwanga, Moses Waiswa, Bobosi Byaruhanga, Steven Mukwala, Fahad Bayo
Substitutions: Ismail Watenga (GK), Alionzi Nathian (GK), Innocent Wafula, Mustapha Kizza, Godfrey Wasswa, Livingstone Mulondo, Najib Fesali, Yunus Sentamu, Ibrahim Orit, Julius Poloto, Shafik Kagimu, Cromwell Rwothomio, Martin Kizza
Rwanda: Emery Mvuyekure (GK), Emmanuel Imanishimwe, Solomon Nirisalike, Rwatubyaye, Medi Kagere, Kevin Muhire, Rafael York, Jacques Tuyisenge, Yannick Mukunzi, Ange Mutsinzi, Djabel Manishimwe
Substitutions: Blaise Nishimwe, Muhadjir Hakizimana, Iradukunda Jean, Thierry Manzi, Eric Ndayishimiye (GK), Haruna Niyonzima, Oliver Niyonzima, Eric Rutanga.