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CHAN: Waiswa must step up for Cranes against Senegal

Back in 2018 when the Uganda Cranes were playing the qualifiers for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) under French coach Sebastien Desabre, Moses Waiswa was the toast of the town after impressing in the decisive game against Cape Verde that earned the country a place at the tournament finals.

At the time, Waiswa was playing for Vipers and Desabre was widely praised for the audacity to select a home-based player in game of huge significance. Waiswa’s career since then has taken him to South Africa and back to the Uganda Premier League and currently, he is with the Uganda Cranes African Nations Championship (Chan) team in Annaba where the team will take on Senegal in their second group match tonight,
January 18.

Waiswa was one of the Uganda Cranes players who started in last Saturday’s drab stalemate with DR Congo but the KCCA midfielder barely made an impression on the game. Waiswa is now a senior member of the Chan squad, having featured in the senior Cranes squad in Afcon qualifiers of various editions.

But he put in a subdued performance against the DRC and was ineffective in midfield before being hauled off by coach Micho Sredojevic for defender Kenneth Ssemakula. Waiswa’s poor day was summed up by two dreadful freekicks, from promising positions, that didn’t even test DRC goalkeeper Baggio Siadi.

Tonight, when the Uganda Cranes play group leaders Senegal in a match of huge significance for Cranes’ chances, Waiswa will have to put in a much more imposing performance if the team is to stand a chance of reaching the knock-out stages of the competition.

By the time Cranes enter the pitch, Uganda will know whether they are bottom of the table or not with DR Congo and Ivory Coast – both winless – facing one another in the 7 pm kick-off.

Although defender Gift Fred struck the woodwork against DR Congo, there was a palpable dearth of creativity through-out the entire game. Senegal, who are the group favourites, are rated higher than DRC but Micho will pick out the positives from Saturday for inspiration.

The Cranes kept a clean sheet and showed commendable organisation at the back. However, they have reached a stage in the tournament where they must score to progress.

And scoring is an age-old problem for the Uganda Cranes for both the Chan side and the senior national team. It is not only Waiswa whose seniority has put him under the spotlight in Algeria. Milton Karisa is another member who has featured regularly for the senior national team.

And more to him is that Karisa is a forward whose role is to score goals alongside Nelson Senkatuka and
Frank Ssebufu.

Micho’s teams have always been famed for their defensive astuteness but they have never been known to be free-scoring. Yet the Serbian now finds himself in a position where he must cajole Cranes to fashion opportunities in two crucial games – against Senegal today and Ivory Coast on Sunday.

The two games will go a long way in determining how ready members of the squad in Algeria are to stake claims for spots in
the senior national team.

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