Uganda Cranes Coach Jonathan Mckinstry has shielded his players despite a poor display in the goalless draw against Rwanda.
The Cranes staged a lacklustre performance and were second best as they started their CHAN 2020 campaign with a point in Group C.
Mckinstry was not convinced with the performance on the night but said that it was due to the “nervousness” of some of the players who were playing at this stage for the first time.
“The first half of the game was really frustrating for players and staff alike, and there is no doubt it was below the level we can play,” said the Northern Irishman.
“One of the things we were imploring to them at halftime is that they have to play football, pass the ball, I felt that may be there was a little bit of nervousness for a lot of players it was their first time at this level.
“Yes, its an East African derby but its a new level for them, CHAN is a step up in terms of pressure and so I think that some of the players felt that pressure and they were not willing to play those punchy passes especially into the attacking midfielders, we really didn’t get the likes of Bright Anukani and Karim Watambala on the ball enough.
“We let ourselves down in the first half, the players resorted to playing too many long straight balls and this really is not what we wanted.”
The Cranes were lucky to go into the break without conceding after the Amavubi Stars hit the crossbar twice.
In the second half, Mckinstry introduced experienced midfielder Tonny Mawejje and Police FC forward Ben Ocen and the team managed to get a respite thereafter.
Mckinstry explained: “At halftime, we were able to address that, we made a few tweaks and we moved the ball a lot better in the second half and we created a few chances.
“I believe that what we still need to do better at creating chances, the chances we did create were the ones that came through a level of buildup play and moving the ball effectively.
“At least we showed movement in the second half, and its going to be interesting to sit down and re-watch the game and dissect it.”
Mckinstry added that the boys needed more confidence, and that the players are well aware that they can do a lot better than they played against Rwanda.
The game revealed a lot of work for Mckinstry whose side face wounded Togo before wrapping up the group against holders Morocco.
On what lies ahead, he stated: “Second half was definitely a progression
from the first half and we got to pick up from there and we build on again and again.
“We got a big game in three days time against Togo, its a big game for them as well having lost to Morocco in their first game so they will be hungry.
“We have to put the players back together and make sure that we have many people back to full fitness as possible.
“We have to remove fears from the players because we know that if they pass and move the ball, play that one-two touch passes and get the ball to the midfielders and to the wide forwards, we can be effective. We didn’t do that enough today and we need to build on that and make sure that in the next two days we play that a passing and moving brand of football that can bring us success.”
The gaffer also said that the doctors will have to assess Milton Karisa who pulled out with an injury in the first quarter of the game.