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McKinstry shows deft game management in Ouagadougou stalemate

Jonathan McKinstry (white) and his technical team during a training session in Ouagadougou | FUFA media

In a game where Johnathan McKinstry was widely expected to leave his mark, few should have been impressed by the tamed and timid performance from the Cranes away in Ouagadougou as they were, out played, in a game where they desperately clung on for a dear point.

McKinstry started out with the famed and fluid 4-2-3-1 formation which allowed his team’s wide men to always keep track of the threat that came from Burkinabe’s dangerous wide men in Jonathan Pitroipa and Cyrille Bayala.

Kuddos on that from the Northern Irishman as it enabled create an overload of numbers making the Cranes hard to break down.

In stark contrast, it meant that Cranes players were sitting unusually too deep in their own half which just attracted more onslaughts from the home side that were continuously backed by the resounding ululations from a desperately expectant home crowd.

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Dividends of this mounting pressure were visible from the onset when Joseph Ochaya had to make a goal line clearance from Lassina Traore after Cranes skipper, Denis Onyango was comprehensively beaten. This was as early as the 5th minute and a sign that Cranes were in for a long night.

Slightly after the half hour mark, Uganda’s left back on the day, Joseph Ochaya, was booked which meant that he had to play on the edge with large chunks of the game still left to cover.

This made him susceptible to getting sent off and his refraining from sticking in tackles paved way for the Stallions to launch attacks down that flank.

Denis Onyango was later booked too for cynical time wasting in the 75th minute. Later followed up by substitute, Nicholas Wadada who had his name taken deep into injury time as Cranes desperately hung on for a priceless away point was justification enough of the amount of pressure the home side put the Cranes under.

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In reminisce to Milutin Sredojevic’s side that narrowly lost in Ouagadougou 1-0 back in March 2016, bar McKinstry’s more conservative approach, you’ve got to give the youthful coach a round of applause for not exhibiting naive confidence and letting lose against an opponent who could easily pick you apart with the pacey and tricky forwards in Eric Traoré and Lassina Traoré.

Cranes kept a compact shape in the middle and allowed Burkina Faso majority of the possession out wide where they knew there was less of a threat from the home side and that was a stroke of geniuss from McKinstry albeit the pronged efforts from Burkina Faso to create an opening

Michael Azira, Khalid Aucho and Farouk Miya worked their socks off as they tried to close down every gap of space available and this meant that Lassina and Eric had to drop deep to have a feel of the ball and that rendered them somewhat ineffective.

This in fact led to the inevitable withdrawal of the pair in subsequent minutes. In the 66th and 67th minute’s, Lassina and Eric were respectively taken off for a fresh pair of attacking options in golden oldie, Aristide Bance and the tricky but exciting Alain Traore.

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That was a master stroke from coach Kamou Malo as Bance offered a more central pivot because of his good and strong hold up play which enabled him interchange play with other players around him such as Johnathan Pitroipa, Alain and midfield dynamo Charles Kabore which gave Burkina Faso that much needed impetus going forward.

McKinstry on his part also admirably responded to Malo’s quick double change by withdrawing Kaddu who was pedestrian on the night and only reduced to chasing lost causes by bringing on defender Isaac Muleme to play as an auxiliary Left Winger yet offering that much needed cover to Ochaya who was now up against the mercurial skills of Alain.

This should go down as proactive game management from the gaffer and most certainly deserves a pat on the back for that.

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All in all Cranes didn’t have the best of showings on the night but will definitely be happy with the priceless point earned while Burkina Faso will rue the two points dropped as they feel they had the beating of this side.

Cranes can now turn their attention to the home game against Malawi who beat South Sudan 1-0 in Blantyre courtesy of a Gabadinho Mhango strike and currently lead Group B of the AFCON 2021 qualification with 3 points.

This is a game many Cranes fans will pick interest in to really see what Johnny McKinstry is made of as Malawi will take heart from their last showing against Cranes at the Mandela National Stadium where they frustrated the home side to a goalless draw.

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1 comment

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Merchant November 14, 2019 at 11:19 PM

Hey Edward, just keep the spirit, applauds await u

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