Uganda Cranes head coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic rues Mali’s World Cup qualification barren stalemate as abysmal for a litany of reasons with the go-to being Murushid Juuko’s altercation with an opposition player that had him see red in the 64th minute.
The Express Football Club defender received direct marching orders following what appeared to be a malicious and deliberate elbow, off-the-ball incident on striker Ibrahima Kone at St Mary’s Stadium, Kitende on Monday.
The ugly scene that provoked these emotions was a repetition of an earlier cynical challenge on the same player that had happened during their first half battle, only earning the veteran defender a caution with 36 minutes played.
As expected, Juuko’s actions did not go down well with Micho, who believes the Uganda Premier League champion should have handled the situation better given his vast experience.
“It was totally unnecessary because he had a first half yellow card. At halftime we talked to him about self control because these kinds of games command higher tactical demand,” the Serbian stated.
“The yellow card was because of poor awareness and positioning but the second was completely unnecessary, he knows he has to control his head but we have talked to him and he knows it cost us in some aspects,” he added.
The 52-year old also had mixed emotions about the narrative that the two goalless draws would have been different had all the players that the Serbian tactician had wanted to join the camp.
“Look, these are no excuses but I believe we would have been different if all the players had come. Taddeo Lwanga came but was injured, Timothy Awany, Edrisa Lubega, Bevis Mugabi and others will be available in October and it will be a different situation.”
He however believes that the team gave a good account of themselves given the fact that most of them had been out of competitive action for longer spells heading into the matches.
“Against Kenya and Mali who had very good preparations, I think the boys tried to give a good show even though we lacked cohesion,” Micho reflected.
Micho’s beliefs for a better showing from his side in the soon-to-come month of October have not wavered as he highlighted the difficulty in playing games during August and September from a coach’s perspective given the holiday calendar for these athletes.
The Cranes last won a competitive match in November 2020 against South Sudan(1-0). Friendlies inclusive, they are as well winless in the last nine, losing five in the process.
Uganda and Kenya sit third and second on the log respectively with two points apiece behind Mali who are four points to the good. Rwanda occupies a rock-base with just a single point.
The top teams from the ten groups will play out a two-legged playoff that will have the five eventual winners represent Africa at the Qatar 2022 showdown.