By Baron Kironde
Uganda Cranes’ caretaker coach Abdallah Mubiru has attached complacency to his side’s 3-2 loss to South Africa’s Bafana Bafana.
Mubiru, who selected a relatively less experienced side for the international friendly played at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Thursday, observed that his players started on a good note, only to lose it later on in the game.
“We played two different games in each half. We switched off in the second half, and our opponents punished us,” Mubiru admitted after the game.
Uganda enjoyed the early minutes of the game as Ibrahim Orit put the Cranes ahead, nodding in captain Emmanuel Okwi’s cross past goalkeeper Ronwen Williams.
Mubiru’s side could have stretched the lead at the stroke of halftime had Williams not kept out Shafik Kagimu’s powerful shot from range.
In a flash twist, three second-half goals in a space of 21 minutes from the hosts condemned Uganda to defeat despite the relatively inexperienced Cranes team starting brightly.
After halftime, South Africa made a couple of changes as Evidence Makgopa and Thapiso Kutumela replaced Denwan Farmer and Nkosinathi Sibisi.
Two minutes after the hour mark, Makgopa equalized with a neat strike past goalkeeper Ismail Watenga who was making his first Cranes start in six years.
Five minutes later, the Bafana Bafana doubled their lead through Maritzburg United’s forward Bongokhule Hlongwane’s goal.
Uganda paid for their poor defending and lack of cohesion as the home team capped off a scintillating second half with a third goal through Makgopa’a second of the night with eight minutes to play.
In the 89th minute, substitute Abdu Lumala’s goal for Uganda was only a consolation and too late to help his team avoid defeat.
The loss, Mubiru’s second in succession as Uganda Cranes’ caretaker coach condemned Uganda to a tough beginning to what should be a new era as they look at rebuilding after failing to qualify for the 2022 AFCON finals.
For the bigger aspect of rebuilding the Cranes, a win was registered basing on the fact that non-regular players in the Cranes set-up were given ample time to impress.
Ismael Watenga, Allan Okello, Mustafa Kizza, Ibrahim Orit and Shafik Kagimu who could be a huge part of Uganda’s next generation of national team regular footballers were all handed starts as Isma Mugulusi, Bobosi Byaruhanga and Steven Mukwala were also later on introduced in the game.