Kampala — Cranes coach Sebastien Desabre admits it was a disappointing turn of events in Dar es Salaam as his team went down 3-0 to Tanzania but took solace in Uganda still qualifying to Afcon 2019 in Egypt as Group L leaders.
The Frenchman has come under fire for his team selection on Sunday, where he started midfielder and debutant Krizestom Ntambi in central defence alongside Timothy Awany, who was starting his first Cranes game at this level.
Ntambi, like most of his peers, indeed looked shaky and together with Awany and Nicholas Wadada, were at the centre of Tanzania’s second goal after Mbwana Samatta beat them all before the former handled in the box.
Desabre also gave starts to Allan Kyambadde and Tadeo Lwanga as regulars Khalid Aucho, Murushid Jjuuko and Joseph Ochaya – who was recovering from a fever – sat on the bench.
The Uganda Cranes coach also had questionable substitutes, some wondering Salim Jamal, for example, was not given a chance after skipper Denis Onyango finally conceded, or why the likes of Allan Okello did not get a runout.
To be fair to Desabre, he made four changes from the team that drew goalless with Tanzania in Kampala, while he also had the responsibility to be respectful to the other group match between Cape Verde and Lesotho.
He said Jjuuko and Aucho did not play because of yellow cards. “We had to manage the players on yellow cards because it is important for them to be available for the first game at the Afcon finals as we had already qualified,” said Desabre.
Actually, Jjuuko missed the opening 1-0 loss to Ghana at the 2017 Gabon Afcon finals because he was suspended for accumulated yellow cards during the qualification campaign.
“It was difficult for us because we concede the first goal early and fail to manage the first half well. I’m disappointed with how the game turned out but the most important thing is we won the Group and continue the road to Egypt.
“We learnt a lot from the game and we now have to prepare better for the first game at the finals.” This is the second successive time Uganda are qualifying for the Nations Cup finals.