Africa-Press – Uganda. A predominantly local-based Uganda Cranes team had to adjust promptly to pass the mental and cultural test posed by Iceland on Wednesday in Antalya, Turkey.
Uganda Cranes coach Micho Sredojevic threw a spanner in the works by giving debuts to Bul’s George Kasonko, KCCA’s Rogers Mato, and SC Villa’s Garvin Kizito in a game spiced with apprehension and transience at the Titanic Deluxe Belek Football Center in Belek, Turkey.
By five minutes, Iceland were in the lead after forward Jón Daði Böðvarsson put Viðar Ari Jónsson’s cross beyond Charles Lukwago in Cranes’ goal.
The different football cultures did not come to the fore but rather a cautious game plan played out with Micho’s team defending in numbers and waiting for a counter-attacking outlet.
It came in the 30 minutes when Vipers winger Milton Karisa daringly took the ball to Iceland defence before he was fouled in the forbidden area. Forward Patrick Kaddu, reportedly rejoining KCCA soon, stepped up to slot the penalty in the opposite direction of Iceland goalkeeper Jökull Andrésson.
“It has been a good lesson for us because we played a team that had 14 players that played at the 2018 world Cup in Russia. We had jetlag but the players also showed stagefright in the early stages before they recovered.
“I’m grateful to my players for defending in numbers and I believe the game improved them,” Micho revealed after the match.
The Cranes are set to lower the contest tomorrow when they take on Romanian side Botosani at the same venue. They will then take on Moldova, Iraq, and Bahrain to complete the tour.
On Wednesday, the Cranes made only three changes in the slugfest with Iceland, throwing on Yunus Sentamu and Ashraf Mugume for Kasonko and Kaddu. The Serb later brought on Onduparaka marksman Muhammad Shaban for Express left-winger Martin Kizza who had a relatively quite outing.
“Iceland was a very resilient team with a different culture. We gave a chance to practically 17 players. We are here to see who our players are for the future,” Micho emphasized.
Saturday: Botosani Vs Uganda – Antalya, Turkey
January 18: Moldova Vs Uganda – Antalya, Turkey
January 21: Iraq Vs Uganda – Baghdad
January 27: Bahrain Vs Uganda – Bahrain city
Uganda Cranes XI:
Charles Lukwago (goalkeeper and captain), Gavin Kizito Mugweri, Aziz Kayondo, Enock Walusimbi, Halid Lwaliwa, George Kasonko (Ashraf Mugume), Milton Karisa, Rogers Kassim, Patrick Kaddu (Yunus Sentamu), Steven Desse Mukwala, Martin Kizza (Muhammad Shaban)