Cranes success built on solid defensive foundations

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Many a great side is built from the back and Sébastien Desabre’s Cranes are about to touch greatness on the back of that premise.

As mean as a black dog. That is the character of the Uganda Cranes backline. Four games played, no goals conceded. The result, one point from AFCON qualification with two games to play.

Many a great side is built from the back and Sébastien Desabre’s Cranes are about to touch greatness on the back of that premise. Uganda’s performances in the forward half of the pitch have not exactly been box office hits but they have seldom put a foot wrong in protecting their house. And for that history beckons.

Entertainment matters, of course, but winning is foremost. And what a massive coup for Ugandan sport it would be if the Cranes return to the AFCON. Though it would be the second appearance in the last three tries, it would also be only the second in 40 years.

Is football really Uganda’s first sport? Well, Desabre and the Cranes are about to prove it is and all that is required is another clean sheet.

Both Cape Verde and Tanzania can still qualify so they will make life hard for the Cranes in the next two outings but when the stakes are high, defensively strong teams hold it together. Denis Onyango, Hassan Wasswa, Godffrey Walusimbi, Murshid Juuko and Nicholas Wadada have been the best thing about the Cranes in this qualification campaign and there is every indication they will be able to finish what they started.

Still, defensive solidity is not a five-man speciality. It is a collective mindset and it increasingly appears that Desabre has chosen to sustain rather than tinker with his predecessor’s defence-first approach.

And who can blame him? When you’re hired with a short-term objective such as AFCON qualification, it is quite improbable to build a side that plays free-flowing football. Better to focus on the defence since half the work is in wise player-section.

Maybe a time is coming when the Cranes will have a generation of players who both win and entertain.

For now, though, winning is good enough.

NewVision.co.ug

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