So Sebastein Desabre has eventually ended up on Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic’s roll call of foes. Well, that’s if an almighty rant by the Serbian on the messaging app, WhatsApp is anything to go by. In the rant, Micho takes exception to Desabre promising Ugandans “[a] good…playing style and philosophy.”
The inference that Micho warmed up to functional football during his spell at the helm of The Cranes obviously doesn’t sit well with the Serbian. It always hasn’t.
When James Siang’a hinted at relentlessly negative tactics standing Micho in good stead in the buildup to the 2003 Cecafa Club Championship final between SC Villa and Tanzania’s Simba SC, sparks flew.
The two coaches came dangerously close to butting heads when a keenly contested final ended with Villa triumphantly carrying the day. That same year, Micho snubbed Jan Fray’s attempt at getting a handshake after the then KCCA FC coach had said Danish football is more soft on the eye than what Serbians muster.
As it turns out, Micho needs little or no invitation to break the rules of etiquette. So when Desabre made it abundantly clear — shortly after replacing Micho as Cranes coach late last year — that he intends to be celebrated by romantics and purists alike, one got the sense that the Frenchman was treading on eggshells. And so it proved! Desabre of course showed that he has a nuanced command of the narrative when he put out a terse statement on his official Facebook page. Without naming names, the Frenchman showed contempt for “people [who] have not seen the matches and only interpret the results.”
The matches in question were losses at the hands of Central African Republic (1-0) and Niger (2-1) during a three-nation tournament in Niamey. Micho referenced the losses in his polemic, juxtaposing them with the marginal win he bagged in Nigeria (1-0) and battling draw in Senegal (0-0) to show more than anything that Uganda has crunched into reverse gear. Throwing down the gauntlet, Micho challenged Desabre “to win nine away competitive matches in Africa like I did in my spell.”
It’s safe to say that the response to Micho’s rant has been decidedly mixed. While some Cranes fans miss the strength and inexhaustible stamina exuded under his stewardship, others have roundly dismissed the Serbian as a voyeur. He’s even been likened to a jilted lover!
In truth, it was unbecoming for Micho to take the gloves off in the manner that he did. What’s more, the Serbian is no stranger to teething problems. Unless he is afflicted by selective amnesia, it shouldn’t be lost upon Micho that he suffered a humiliating 3-0 loss at the hands of Libya during one of his first assignments as Cranes coach. Indeed, many Cranes fans bayed for Micho’s blood during the infancy of his career as Cranes coach. His bosses, however, made the judicious decision to stand by him and the rest as they say is history.
Desabre also deserves similar benefit of the doubt. It’s foolhardy to write his epitaph this early as Micho risks to be seen doing. Yes, there is cause for concern, but the panic button shouldn’t be pressed. That would truly be a knee jerk reaction. In his Facebook post, the Frenchman said that “everyone is working hard…[to ensure that] we…win but also give style to the team.”
One thing that Micho did superbly after his induction was to adapt. He set up his team to play according to its strengths. The players, many of whom are not gifted, used their tireless courage to intently close down spaces and catch opponents unawares on the break. What has Desabre learnt after his induction and, above all, will he adapt?