Uganda Cranes have kept eight clean sheets in their last 10 games an indicator that it’s not a team that can be broken down easily. In fact, defense and goalkeeping have been Uganda’s best departments for the last two decades.
While Egypt will look at Mohammed Salah to take them to the promised land, Senegal having their hopes in Sadio Mane, Tanzania in Mbwana Samatta and Kenya in Victor Wanyama, Uganda is incomplete without goalkeeper Denis Onyango.
Its true goalkeepers win you championships but you need strikers to win you games. The Cranes being very ruthless defensively is a perfect definition of the Ugandan game, it offers little going forward, something that Sebastien Desabre is yet to find the remedy for.
And something that might haunt the Cranes once again at the big stage, until they master the art of operating in the final third, something they won’t do so over time.
Cranes will play with a standard back four protecting Denis Onyango with the full back’s licenses of going forward revoked if the 1-0 win against Ivory Coast on Saturday is anything to by.
The back four are protected by two holding midfielders and that has been the story for ages and probably the reason Uganda has a clean defensive record for some time.
Four players have the room to search for goals, against Ivory Coast, Patrick Kaddu led the line, Farouk Miya played behind him with Emma Okwi and Abdu Lumala on the left and right wings respectively.
Kaddu looked isolated, little supply was coming through, the sweet cross from Lumala that he headed home only for the Ivorian shot-stopper to parry away.
Lumala just like Kizito Luwagga and Allan Kateregga are all a join to watch, but at this stage, their time and space on the pitch seem to be limited, yet they have the spark that Desabre dreams of to unlock opponent’s defenses.
The four offensive players can’t do it alone, they need support from the fullbacks, when you attack in numbers, you force the opponents into panic mode.
But Cranes is likely not to be that side at the Nations Cup, the reason central defender Bevis Mugabi is starting at right back ahead of Nicholas Wadada a natural right-back is because Desabre doesn’t want to take chances.
“I prefer defender with 60% mind on defense and 40% mind on the attack,” Desabre said before the team left Kampala.
“I wouldn’t mind playing with three central defenders in a back four because it’s important to keep it solid at the back,” he added.
Going forward, he wants the players to play with confidence and enjoy themselves, but probably he put more focus on making sure they master the art conducting themselves in the opponent’s finals third.