Like every other Ugandan, interim Cranes coach Moses Basena was disappointed his team didn't qualify for the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia, following the goalless draw with Ghana on October 7. In an interview with JOHN VIANNEY NSIMBE, the coach provides some insights into the Ugandan game.
When Serbian tactician Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevich decided to call time on his reign as the Uganda Cranes coach back in July Moses Basena stepped in as the anointed one following the team's 5-1 aggregate win over South Sudan in the Africa Nations Championship (Chan) qualifiers. Micho left The Cranes on a high note.
And to prove how much Basena had learnt from Micho, he went ahead to inspire the Cranes qualification to the Chan tournament with a 3-2 aggregate win over Rwanda in August.
Despite that, including the 1-0 win over Egypt at Namboole, Basena remains in interim charge, something that is disconcerting him, and for good reason.
"I have so many ideas that I would want to implement to ensure that The Cranes improve. But to what end? I do not know how long I am going to be coach. So, that, inevitably, makes it difficult for me to plan, let alone lay strategy." Basena said.
Presently, Basena was given a two-month break by his club UPDF FC to concentrate on The Cranes. And hopefully at the end of that break, his Cranes future will be clearer, a decision he leaves the appointing authority.
For example, he noted, that when you are a national team coach, it is important to always have meetings with club coaches in the league. This enables you to discuss player development and coaching.
"From that, you can agree on the training methodologies and tactics against which a player should be nurtured, so that once he reaches The Cranes, he is ready to play, and does not need to be re-oriented afresh."
A lot of perspective has been generated from the Ghana game. While the Black Stars, that faced The Cranes, were not the familiar faces many Ugandans knew, they gave Uganda a real big test. Basena is not oblivious to that.
He said: "When you look at the technique of players like Thomas Partey, you are impressed. But it is not surprising, since he is playing at Atletico Madrid."
Such, Basena added, needed to happen for Uganda, to reduce on the limitations that the team has. Basena emphasized that there needs to be more Ugandan players in the 'A' leagues of Europe.
There, Cranes will be able to compete consistently. But that can only be realized by coaches here doing the right coaching.
In addition, Basena said with players like Kizito Luwaga, Farouk Miya, Derrick Nsibambi, Muzamir Mutyaba, Paul Mucureezi and Tom Masiko, there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel for Uganda. But these players must learn to be incisive, imposing and consistent.
"Luwaga has speed and can dribble. But we need him to create the goals and score them too. As for Mutyaba, I always tell him, that as coach, I hate seeing him being withdrawn after 60 minutes, because it means he lacks endurance. Top footballers are rarely substituted because they dictate and determine games," Basena reasoned.
That brought Basena to reminisce about how the 0-1 loss away to Egypt marked a turning point in this World Cup qualification campaign.
In that game, Basena recollected that goalkeeper Denis Onyango proved what a class act he is: "He is probably the closest to a world-class player, that Cranes has. He was unbelievable in keeping us in the game."
But in the last minute, Cranes got a free-kick, which Basena feels they mismanaged, although he had already assured his assistants, here comes the Cranes equalizer.
The would-be late show did not materialize, and with it, Basena felt ceding first position in the group rendered Cranes helpless.
Yet, Basena cannot entirely be blameless. He has been responsible for fielding players that are inactive at their clubs.
In his response, Basena said his hands are tied, especially because a number of active local players at his disposal disappoint. He is thus compelled to stick with the tried and tested.
You only wonder whether come the end of these World Cup qualifiers against Congo-Brazzaville next month, he will have passed Fufa's test to be named substantive Cranes coach.