25 October 2012

Uganda/Tanzania: Please Do Some Self Diagnosis

On Wednesday Fufa announced that The Cranes team to compete at the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup will be summoned soon. But have Fufa reviewed coach Bobby Williamson's performance for the two and a half failed Afcon qualification campaigns?

In four years as Cranes coach, Williamson has registered 28 wins, 13 losses and 17 draws in 58 games. Cranes have scored 87, conceded 47 goals and kept 29 clean-sheets. His overall winning rate has been 48%.

In 14 Afcon and World Cup qualifiers, he has won 6, drawn 4 and lost 4. In five away Afcon qualifiers, he has won one - the 1-0 over Guinea-Bissau in March 2011.

But, I do remember that he was hired primarily to improve the Cranes away record.

Forget about winning the Cecafa in Tanzania and Kenya which Williamson keeps saying. With a rosy record of 17 wins, 6 draws and one loss in 24 Cecafa games, Williamson has been crowned 'King' of the Cecafa region.

But the 70% Cecafa success that has seen Cranes win three titles in four attempts isn't what Ugandans need. Rather, we want an improvement on the 42.8% in Afcon and World Cup qualifiers.

If he can deliver that, then Williamson will be a deserving recipient of the reported Shs 25m ($10,000) salary he receives every month. My next concern is about statistics. While the Uganda-Zambia game was interesting as it was gut-wrenching, it provided some telling statistics leaving one wondering whether Uganda was the better side.

But a team running around with the ball can be a false picture. It creates an impression of dominance, yet there is no purposeful play. In the entire game, Cranes had four corner-kicks compared to Chipolopolo's one. This showed that there was more goal action in the Zambians' penalty area unlike ours.

Normally, corner-kicks are conceded when under pressure but the fact that our first came after 20 minutes and not many more followed implies we failed to get behind the Zambians defence lines.

In the entire match, Cranes fashioned only two scoring chances. The first after 27 minutes, buried by Geoffrey Massa and the second was the header by striker Hamis Kiiza on 77 minutes that the Zambian goalkeeper, Kennedy Mweene smothered.

How could we have expected to get more goals with such a return? Worse, Cranes' main source of goals has usually been through crosses. But we had 8 crosses the entire game, three of which found their target. Zambia had one successful cross from left-back Emmanuel Mbola. Their full-backs including Davies Nkausu were too defensive.

No wonder Cranes goalie Dennis Onyango had only two shots to tame throughout. Although Cranes looked dominant in possession, they failed to play behind the Zambian lines to create chances. With three midfielders, largely defensive, that was expected. This means our approach was to stop Zambia from playing instead of going for the kill.

Because of that, Zambia won 25 free-kicks against our 20. Now, the interesting part: Cranes completed 123 passes in the first half compared to Zambia's 103. But in the second half, Cranes only completed 98 passes compared to Zambia's 122. With less of the ball, a goal is hard to get.

Finally, you can all appreciate how statistics provide good insight into a team's performance more than the plain eye. Williamson ought to see the need for a statistician too as a cultured professional coach.

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