Ahead of this Saturday’s return leg of the Africa Under-23 qualifiers, Uganda’s Under-23 national team, the Kobs, carry a healthy 2-1 lead against Rwanda from the first leg in Kigali yet the tie is far from being done, write JOHN VIANNEY NSIMBE.
In every sense, the Kobs ought to do what’s necessary to dispose of Rwanda without sweating a lot despite the fact that history has a way of repeating itself. Coach Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic, the Kobs Coach has been in this situation before where his team won the first leg away from home, yet slipped in the home leg. That was in 2003 when his SC Villa charges won away 2-1 in Angola to AS Aviacao, just to lose the second leg 0-2.
In any case, the Aviacao drama is a long time ago and must be a lesson of how cruel life can be. This should help his players avoid complacency, one major concern among many at his table.
The second leg is normally a teaser for teams that have won the first leg away when it comes to adopting an approach. Defend or attack? Micho advised his players to harbor a mentality as they are the ones at a disadvantage. “That implies they will respect Rwanda, play with focus and inspiration to win, yet careful of committing mistakes.”
The main thing that contributed to Rwanda’s loss in the first leg seemed like complacency. All through the build-up, the Rwandans seemed to act like they were superior to their opponents, considering that many of these players were a part of their team that played at the Under-17 2011 World Cup.
The atmosphere around the likes of the defender and captain Emery Bayisenge and midfielder Yannick Mukunzi was palpable every time they were in possession. Indeed, frequently, they over-did the tiki-taka as they showboated. It was a platform for Kobs’ win, which played with dogged determination rather than flashiness.
That was then and as Micho awaits the return leg, he has been supported by the availability of experienced Dennis Iguma, Richard Kasagga, and midfielder Khalid Aucho. But in that lies another concern on whether it is wise to change a winning team.
Coach Micho’s reaction was that they would see about that in their last training today, as the tactical work takes the stage. In any case, borrowing from the first leg performances, midfielder Tom Masiko was wanting. Right-back Joseph Nsubuga and left-back Brian Ochwo didn’t offer the team substantial width as modern full-backs do.
Nsubuga delivered four crosses all through, most of which were early crosses from the centerline. Ochwo made just two. In addition, John Ssemazzi, who is usually played as a winger at Express FC, appeared to be lost as a target man, henceforth his minimal contribution.
In any case, Micho said this was just down to first international game jitters and he expects him to improve. Yet more essentially, Kobs’ propensity to create chances uplifted once midfielder Muzamir Mutyaba was introduced. He opened up Rwanda’s defense like a master with immaculate precision.
Whether Mutyaba starts, is something Micho will need to consider in spite of the fact that the team ethic is of the essence. Micho’s desire is to see a team that goes onto the field and controls the game, passes the ball purposefully, and satisfies the spectators with top-class performance and win.