Uganda Cranes coach Milutin Micho Sredejovic has broken down the team’s 2-0 loss to Algeria in their opening Group F game of the 2023 AFCON Qualifiers.
Goals from Aissa Mandi and Youcef Belaili handed Algeria a deserved win in a game Uganda struggled to get anything going.
Micho highlighted the fact that Algeria needed the match more after the 2019 AFCON Champions failed to get out of their 2021 AFCON group and missing out on a place in the 2022 FIFA World Cup after a painful loss to Cameroon.
“Missing out on the World Cup Qualification has been a huge trauma for you as a nation,” Micho told the Algerians after the match.
“From the moments when we got you in the Qualifiers, we have been preparing everything, I know your players very well, we have gone to the deepest details.”
Micho’s three moments that turned the game away include Khalid Aucho giving away a freekick from which Algeria scored their opener.
Then Farouk Miya missing a penalty immediately after the Desert Warriors went ahead, and when Cranes looked to have stabilised in the second half, they were beaten by a Belaili master-class.
“However, three details decided this match: We gave unnecessary set-piece in the area from where Belaili gave Islam Slimani at the far post who headed it back and we conceded a very cheap goal from lapse of concentration.
“The second is that immediately after the critical phase of conceding, when your team was still celebrating, we won a penalty, and when you don’t score, this immediately kills the morale of the team.
“However, on halftime, we looked to close the gaps and cracks that we had in the first stanza, and we had kept you silent until a masterpiece of Belaili that put the game beyond our reach.”
The result could have been worse but goalkeeper Charles Lukwago made outstanding saves to give Uganda a fighting stance.
“It has been a great test of character for our team, and for us AFCON is starting on Wednesday, we have learn the lessons from this match, this is not an easy place to come to play in.
“You (Algeria) have top class individuals that follow the coach’s instructions and play under one Algerian identity game with domination and rotating that ball and bringing into the wide areas where you are extremely dangerous – Ghezzal and Belaili on either sides are very dangerous.”
He added: “We have lost the game but in football I have personal belief that you either win or you learn the lesson; and we have learnt the lessons from Algeria which we shall use for our game against Niger.”
In one of those nights Cranes players will want to forget quickly, the Algerian dominated possession 80% to Uganda’s 20%.
“When you play against North African teams, you are practically disadvantaged in terms of possession aspect, I believe that the positive is that we limited them to few amount of chances.
“The other positive is that several players got a chance and have seen what high standard of football is because under normal circumstances Algeria is supposed to play in the World Cup with all the quality they are having.”