Uganda Cranes Head Coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic has blamed the team’s poor show in the first two games of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers on the low fitness levels of his players.
He made these remarks following his side’s goalless stalemate against Mali on Monday at the St. Mary’s Stadium in Kitende, a game that also served as his first competitive home game since returning to the Cranes head coach role.
The aftermath presented yet another poor performance as the team failed to find the back of the in a successive game in the campaign.
The Serbian gaffer however had different highlights from the game and commenced his address to the press by highlighting the fact that a lot of preparations went into the Mali game.
“Our approach to the game was clearly based on attack nevermind that Mali is in a better ranking path. The friendly games in June helped us establish cocassion, unity and togetherness amongst the players,” he mentioned.
Uganda played the best part of the second half with only ten men thanks to Murushid Juuko’s straight red card. Juuko following an off-the-ball elbow incident on Mali’s lanky talisman Ibrahima Kone in the corner flag.
“The red card was totally reckless and unnecessary but I expect him to learn from that. We spoke to him at half-time to give him a reminder that he was on yellow card but I was surprised to see him marching off the pitch.” Micho expressed his disappointment when asked about the incident.
Micho ultimately deduced that one of their biggest constraints for both games was fitness levels given the inadequacy of the much needed preparations but also the controversy that surrounds player holiday calendars in the months of August and September.
“I want everyone to understand the situation we have experienced. Majority of the players that have been in lockdown for at least seven months so our job was doing everything to bring them to the level to match our opponents,” Micho expounded.
“When you look at the opponent’s pre-season and compare it to ours, the difference hugely points at an advantage to them. In realization of this, we set-up a fitness camp for the months of June, July, August and September but the time seemed less.”
The action at the World Cup Qualifiers returns in October with a double header against an East African rival, Rwanda, with the first game being played on October 6 in Kigali before the return leg in Kampala four days later.
The Serbian believes that this period will give players room to have more competitive Football than it has been before.
“The difference between now and October is that all players will be competitively active and this will be much easier for us to prepare for matches ahead. We therefore have 50% work done in these two matches but the struggle continues.”
He would also speak about the prospected return of injured players like Edrisa Lubega, Bevis Mugabi, Timothy Awany, who he says will be fit by the time the next round fixtures knock at the door.
After the two opening games of the campaign, Uganda Cranes, who are yet to score a goal sit third in Group E with two points while table leaders Mali who are currently on four points.
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