Monday, September 6
*Uganda 0-0 Mali
Uganda Cranes overcame both a numerical disadvantage and dominant Mali to register their second draw of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.
The Airtel sponsored Uganda Cranes played the best part of the second half with only ten men after defender Murushid Juuko was shown a straight red card.
Juuko elbowed Mali lanky striker Ibrahima Kone in the corner flag to receive marching orders from Mauritius referee Heeralall Ahmad.
Uganda’s only best chances came in set pieces – Isaac Muleme and Mustafa Kizza both saw their free-kicks punched out for corners.
Mali were dominant and will feel unlucky not to walk away with maximum points. However, they also failed to create open chances against a Uganda Cranes side that barely threatened up front.
Moussa Doumbia, after cutting from inside, sent his drive over the bar.
Adama Traore also came close from the freekick in a game of few chances.
Uganda Cranes, yet to score in the campaign, are third in Group E with two points while Mali are top with four.
Micho and the Cranes will return to action in October in double header against Rwanda – The first game will be played on October 6 in Kigali before the return leg in Kampala four days later.
Huge Mountain Awaits Micho
After two games, coach Micho is well aware of the huge work he has in his hands to turn the Cranes into a team he wants.
Unlike in his first tenure, Micho does not have a variety of experienced pool of players to choose from.
He returned at a time when senior players are walking out, and the lack of quality in depth has clearly shown in both matches.
Against Mali, Uganda could not even build from the back and the midfield was very porous while the two forwards of Derrick Nsibambi and Emmanuel Okwi were starved off supply.
The gaffer faces selection headache in next games including the goalkeeping department to choose who is the team’s first choice.
With Murushid Juuko out after that send off, it remains to be seen who will play in the centre back position while there are still reservations with Enock Walusimbi.
Mali Blames ‘Unfavourable’ Pitch
Mali coach Mohamed Magassouba blamed the Kitende astroturf for the result.
Magassouba said that the pitch was unfavourable otherwise his side could have picked a better result on the day.
“The field did not allow us to play, it stopped us from playing our style,” stated the coach in a pre match press conference.
“But it was a good match, Uganda gave us a big challenge and there are no longer small teams in Africa.
“We missed plenty of our players mostly those who play in Italy and England because Uganda is a red list country (Covid19).”
It should be noted that Moussa Djenepo played their 1-0 win against Rwanda last Wednesday but did not come for the Cranes game because Uganda is red listed by UK government.
Despite the missing key players, Mali were the better side at Kitende at both ends of the pitch.
Defender Boubakar Kouyate was a pillar at the back, Mohamed Camara was solid in the middle of the park and covered all the ground was striker Ibrahima Kone bullied the Cranes defenders throughout.
Next for leaders Mali is a double header against Kenya next month.
Uganda Cranes XI: Ismail Watenga, Denis Iguma, Isaac Muleme, Enock Walusimbi, Murushid Juuko, Khalid Aucho, Bobosi Byaruhanga, Milton Karisa, Emmanuel Arnold Okwi, Derrick Nsibambi, Joseph Benson Ochaya.
Substitites – Charles Lukwago ,Joel Mutakubwa, Innocent Wafula, Gavin Kizito Mugweri, Abdul Aziizi Kayondo, Ibrahim Orit, Richard Basangwa, Steven Desse Mukwala, Yunus Sentamu, Mustapha Kizza, Moses Waiswa, Kenneth Semakula
Mali XI – Ibrahima Bosso, Hamali Traore, Charles Traore, Falaye Sacko, Boubacar Kouyate, Diadie Samaskou, Haidara Amadou, Mohamed Camara, Moussa Doumbia, Adama Traore, Kone Ibrahima
Substitutes – Mohamed Niaf, Ismail Diarra, Mamadou Fofana, Senou Coulibaly, Mahame Siby, Aliou Deng, Cheikh Doucoure, Adama Traore, Kouame Ngussan
Hamidou Sinayoko, Lassine Sinayoko, Mahamadou Doucoure