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Uganda's quest to prepare better than Ghana for AFCON clash collapses

Published on: 29 August 2014

Uganda's quest to get better preparation ahead of Ghana for next week's Africa Cup of Nations qualifying clash in Kumasi has failed after several players invited for an early training camp in Kampala failed to turn up.

Of the 25 home-based players summoned for the non-residential training in the country's capital, coach Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic struggled to assemble seven players for Monday's session.

This shows that the Cranes are yet to have everything in place for the do-or-die matches against Ghana and Guinea in quick succession as the Cranes attempt to qualify for the 2015 Nations Cup.

With most of Ghana's players invited for the match based abroad and with Uganda having most of its players at home, the Cranes thought they could be smarter by getting more training days ahead of the Black Stars.

But the absence of several top home-based players has defeated the Serbian coach's original aim to fine-tune his team early bearing in mind the stakes that lie ahead.

Micho, according to his reasoning, has been pointing out how a poor start can easily sap confidence and derail the momentum built through the pre-group qualifiers. And that is something he is working hard to avert. Which, in this case meant that his players needed early work-outs to get them tactically set.

Yet, save for players like Farouq Miya, Robert Ssentongo, Isaac Isinde, Allan Kyambadde and Robert Odongkara, the rest haven't availed themselves.

Kefa Kisala, Cranes assistant coach told The Observer that it is a frustrating situation not having the players around because it is difficult to impart the tactical aspects when out of 25 players, you can only work with five or seven.

"When we first assembled, the coach thought that at least all the home-based players would be around. But we have had to contend with the fact that KCC FC was away in Kigali; so, we couldn't have Brian Umony or Brian Majwega for that matter," Kisala said.

Since making it into the group stages after overcoming Madagascar and Mauritania in the preliminary rounds, Micho has intermittently said that for his charges to stand a good chance in Group E against Ghana, Guinea and Togo, they will need to get off a flier.

The former SC Villa coach says it is crucial for his team to start strong. This, he said, would boost the team's confidence and chances of qualification for a championship Uganda was last at in 1978.

He added that the timing of these games has come at a time when the domestic league is due next month. So, all teams have actually just started pre-season training, and aren't about to release their players either.

On top of that, even Micho's assistants haven't been in position to avail themselves each time he might have needed them.

Kisala is coach of Bidco FC while Fred Kajoba, the goalkeeping coach, handles Simba FC. As such, much of the gym work that the few players available have been undergoing this week, plus the work-outs at the field have largely been handled by Micho himself.

Micho will hope this problem is short-term especially as far as the home-based players are concerned because the foreign-based ones, he can only have them five days before the game at the earliest as per Fifa policy.


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