Why Uganda’s draw with Ghana in the 2018 world cup qualifiers shows progress

Uganda’s goalless draw with Ghana proves progress of the Uganda Cranes  as the nation vies for the 2018 world cup in Russia.

Uganda cranes drew 0-0 with the Black stars in the game which was played at Tamale Stadium on the 7th October 2016.

This was the first game of group E but the visitors absorbed a high tense second-half pressure from their West African opponents to earn a vital point on the road.

Avram Grant’s side enjoyed the majority of possession and the clearest chances in Tamale but could not find a way to beat Uganda’s Denis Onyango in goal. Jordan Ayew proved a constant menace in attack but the Aston Villa man’s end product was lacking. Acheampong was also kept at bay by Cranes’ Khalid Aucho keeping the visitors in the game.

Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic’s side had a couple of chances at goal but Ghana keeper Razak Brimah proved too strong to beat.

Uganda Cranes team that defeated Comoros Islands in Kampala on 4th September 2016 to book a place in the African Nations Cup finals

Uganda Cranes team that defeated Comoros Islands in Kampala on 4th September 2016 to book a place in the African Nations Cup finals

This game showed the progress the nation has made since acquisition of Serbian tactician Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic.

Micho arrived in Uganda in May 2013  taking over the reins from the sacked Bobby Williamson.

On his arrival, he stated his goals as being development of youth systems, Moving Uganda in the FIFA World ranking and give players a chance to play in European leagues.

“One of my aims is to develop the youth systems, and I want us to move from 97th in the rankings up to 70, and stay there to give our players a chance to play in top European leagues.” Stated  Micho.

The goals have to some extent being achieved like the transformation of the football culture in Uganda, the national team has remained amongst the top 70 in the Fifa World rankings, while qualifying for Gabon and players have got a chance to move to European league.

Uganda  ended a 38-year wait for a place in the African Nations Cup finals by securing a 1-0 win over the Comoros Islands in Kampala on 4th September 2016.

Uganda is the best ranked country in the East African region with neighbours Kenya dropping in the latest Fifa world rankings released on 15th September 2016.

All this shows that Uganda is moving in the right direction and can keep dreaming of great things to come.

The progress could be attributed to different factors but Onyango who is considered by many as one of Africa’s most experienced goalkeeper is a pillar to the progress the Uganda cranes have had.

Dennis Onyango is one of the most experinced goalkeepers in Africa

Dennis Onyango is one of the most experienced goalkeepers in Africa

Onyango has got good organizational skills; leadership and individual brilliance at the back which helps him organize his defence.

In games away from home, keeping a clean sheet is crucial and Uganda has somehow mastered the art of doing so. This dwells well with the recent record on the road.

The cranes have won three, lost one and drawn another in their last five competitive away matches.
This was highlighted by Milutin Sredojevic making it clear that the run of good results by Uganda is not an accident but the work of the team.


PAST COMPETITIVE AWAY MATCHES FOR CRANES

Sept, 5 2015: Comoros 0-1 Uganda

Nov, 12 2015: Togo 0-1 Uganda

Mar 26, 2016: Burkina Faso 1-0 Uganda

Jun 4, 2016: Botswana 1-2 Uganda

Oct 7, 2016: Ghana 0-0 Uganda

This is no mean feat on the African continent where home advantage is crucial if one is to have a chance of qualification for different competitions.

The point Uganda got away from Ghana is just the beginning of the tough task ahead.

Home advantage does not guarantee points as witnessed by Egypt’s coming from behind to defeat Congo 2-1 in Brazzaville to take Group E leadership but plays a crucial part.

Micho labels Ghana and Egypt favourites

According to the monitor, Ghana’s failure to earn three points against Uganda has not hindered Micho from naming them as favourites alongside Egypt in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

“Egypt with Ghana are still carrying tag of favourites due to the fact that Egypt won away,” admitted Micho

Egypt lead Group E with three points after they defeated Congo 2-1 in Brazzaville while Ghana are level with Uganda on one point each.

The Serb also stated that the game against Ghana was a measure of character and not numbers at the World cup qualifiers table standings.

“That is what I was looking from the match against Ghana, character, not numbers at the World cup qualifiers table standings.”

Micho added: “Once we improve standards we shall then automatically become contenders to go to World Cup.
“We got a point away in Ghana but we have no right to exaggerate things but realistically look to not be favourites on paper and contenders on the field of play with performance earning practical not declarative tag of favourites.
“We need to approach the next five matches like five cup finals looking in each to fight like lions in human shape for three points and see what will come out as final product.”

Uganda’s next game will be against Congo while Ghana will take on Egypt in November, 2016.

If Uganda Cranes get maximum points  against Congo in Kampala,it will enhance the notion that football  progression  is on the rise.