Uganda coach Milutin Sredojevic has confessed he is facing hard times handling the Cranes after their 1-1 draw against Niger in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on Wednesday.
The Cranes failed to take advantage of playing at home in their second Group F fixture against Le Mena The Mena as Amadou Sabo scored in the 71st minute to cancel out Milton Karisa’s 43rd-minute strike at St Mary’s Stadium in Kitende.
The draw coupled with Cranes opening 2-0 defeat against former champions Algeria left the East African nation with a mountain to climb as they seek to return to the tournament's finals in Ivory Coast since their last appearance in the 2019 edition in Egypt.
“One detail that is lack of concentration in that moment cost us. If we go by the football, we deserved to win however; football is a very cruel game,” Sredojevic told reporters as quoted by Kawowo Sports.
“After 102 matches as coach of Uganda, I would just say this is the hardest moment I have ever been because 50 million people are expecting that you are winning but we didn’t.”
The 52-year-old Serbian, who returned to handle the Cranes on July 27, 2021, after penning a three-year contract, is, however, confident the nation still stand chance to finish second and qualify for the finals.
“However, in the mini-league between us, Niger and Tanzania, we believe that we have everything and what it takes to take second place and qualify for the Afcon,” Sredojevic continued.
“It’s hard to accept but I promise that we shall bounce back.”
Meanwhile, Niger coach Jean-Michel Cavalli believes the race to finish second in Group F is still wide open.
“Algeria is up there but Tanzania, Uganda, and Niger will fight for that one slot,” Cavalli said.
He was, however, pleased with how his players turned up against the Cranes insisting they had many chances to win the game.
“Uganda had 2-3 situations to score the second goal but they didn’t take them in the first half,” added Cavalli. “In the second half, my team had 1-3 situations and scored a very good goal and we could have won it late but made mistakes.
“If we scored one of the two late chances, we win this match but we are happy with a point off a very good Uganda team at their home.”
Uganda will next face neighbours Tanzania in their matchday three fixture on September 19.