Uganda: Team Selection, Stage Fright Cost Cranes Cosafa Semi Slot

COSAFA Cup teams (file photo).

One of the more remarkable statistics laid bare in the wake of Uganda's penalty shootout defeat to Lesotho on Saturday was the fact that scoring goals remains the nation's biggest nightmare, even via spot kicks.

On the day when tension and pain were rolled into one, Abdallah Mubiru's Uganda Cranes side failed to cross the line in the Cosafa quarterfinal contest against Lesotho in Durban in an end-to-end match that had Dan Sserunkuma, Dan Isiagi and Michael Birungi missing a couple of scoring chances.

Cranes were also lucky that Jane Thaba-Ntšo and Sera Motebang's strikes for Lesotho in the last 15 minutes were judged offside for the match to end 0-0 in normal time and 3-2 in favour of the Cosafa nation.

Having missed out on the group stages, Uganda Cranes players cut a picture of a bunch being thrown in at the deep end of the pond, struggling to turn the impressive attacking build-up into goals.

As it panned out, Mubiru must have realized later that starting Isiagi ahead of the lively Sserunkuma was a big gamble that never paid off.

The diminutive Vipers forward, 13 goals to his name in the last league campaign, showed his deftness a few minutes after his entrance with a low curler from outside the area, which forced a fine save out of in-form Likuena custodian Samuel Khetsekile and did the same three minutes later.

"The game was competitive as we tried as much as we could to get some chances but missed them. We were also lucky not to concede. We lacked some maturity during the spot kicks," Mubiru noted.

He remained optimistic; "the future for the team is bright. We can build on our performance today (Saturday) and get the best from our players. We are waiting for our next opponent in the classification game and our focus is to have a win in the competition."

Uganda Cranes will play the loser between South Africa and Botswana (played on Sunday) for the 'Cosafa Plate' tomorrow. The Cosafa Plate is a classification competition for teams that lose at the quarterfinals.

Not only should Mustapha Kizza, John Revita and Paul Mucureezi have done better with their missed spot kicks but Mubiru also should have given creative Tooro United forward Allan Kayiwa more than the four-minute run out to add pace, precision and bite into the Cranes blunt attack line.

COSAFA, quarterfinal

Lesotho 0-0 Uganda

(Lesotho won 3-2 on penalties)

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