It is 10 days before The Cranes get their 2022 African Nations Championship (Chan) campaign underway in Algeria. The Cranes, who are alongside Ivory Coast, DR Congo and Senegal in group ‘B’, have a huge test making the quarter-finals at least.
Yet, Cranes coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic dropped Wakiso Giants midfielder Ibrahim Kasule. At the half-way point of the Uganda Premier League (UPL), Kasule was arguably the best player in the 2022/23 season. Therefore, not to have the 22-year-old among the 25 players heading for the Chan, has been a huge surprise.
Kasule has taken the UPL by storm; scoring five goals and assisting five times. With 25 points on the log, Wakiso are four points behind the leaders KCCA FC. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find a player in the league, that has been involved in 10 goals of their club’s 21 so far this season. And more importantly, having this impact in games against KCCA FC, Vipers SC, SC Villa, URA FC, and Express FC.
Micho, in turn, said Kasule was behind Moses Waiswa and Bright Anukani in the pecking order. So, then, if Kasule, who has been performed better than them in the league, is overlooked, what purpose is in performing well for your club?
Some suggest that Micho has his preconceived selection.
He dismissed that, saying: “The Cranes is not like a club, where you can chip and change anytime. There are at least 13 players already in the set-up, who know the way I work, and have fitted into my tactical plan,” Micho said.
Then, there are the other 12 slots for players who have been on the fringes. Yet, still Kasule could not be among them. Remember, it took a public outcry for Micho to summon the league’s top-score Nelson Ssenkatuka too. Wakiso’s midfield with Hassan Ssenyonjo, Titus Ssematimba, and Lawrence Bukenya has been good.
In fact, considering how national teams are built basing on partnerships like many have seen Spain do in the recent past, it would make sense if that quartet is what Micho picked for The Cranes. Mujib Kasule, the Fifa coaching instructor noted that Kasule certainly deserved a place on the team.
However, the Proline FC director added that it is still a problem understanding the technical line Uganda is taking as far as its football is concerned. Micho favours a team of grafters and hard-workers like Milton Karisa, who is expected to captain the side and Kassim Mato. Both are runners, but also quite defensive.
Dribblers like Kasule, to unlock defences, let alone proper ball handlers, to keep possession, do not seem to be Micho’s thing. Yet, Travis Mutyaba, who is the master key for defences because of his nimble feet, dribbling ability and craft made the squad. Following the pattern of Micho’s squads, there will always be an outlier like Mutyaba.
On the other hand, Micho decided to pick Vipers SC fourth choice goalkeeper Jack Komakech as one of his three custodians. For someone who has not kept goal in the UPL, that must feel like a kick in the teeth for Mathias Muwanga and Emma Kalyowa of Onduparaka FC and Bul FC respectively, who have been consistent. In a nutshell, top national teams tend to rely a lot on partnerships, that players build at their clubs for easy cohesion.
Wakiso Giants has easily had the best midfield for a formidable Cranes launchpad in Algeria, maybe!