Uganda coach Johnathan Mckinstry has blamed the team’s stalemate against Rwanda in their African Nations Championships opener on the nerves among his players.
The Cranes opened their campaign in the 2021 competition with a 0-0 draw against their East African neighbours in a Group C match played at Stade de la Réunification in Douala on Monday night.
The Northern Irish tactician has now revealed to Goal his players developed a fear factor during the match and said their passing of the ball refused to work hence they were not creating enough chances for the strikers to score goals.
“The first half of the game was really quite frustrating I think the players and for the staff alike. The display was below the level I know we can play better than we did,” Mckinstry told Goal after the match. “One of the things we deployed at half time is they have to play football, they have to pass the ball.
“I felt maybe it was through a little bit of nervousness you know for a lot of players it was their first time at this level and you know…yes it was an East African derby but it is a new level for them, Chan is a step up just in terms of pressure and so I feel some of the players felt that pressure and they were not willing to play those punchy passes especially into our attacking midfielders.
“We really didn’t get the likes of Bright [Anukani], the likes of Abdul [Karim] on the ball often, so really we let ourselves down but in the first half the players resorted to playing too many long straight balls and this is really not what we wanted and at half-time, we did the dress up and made a few tweaks and in the second half we moved the ball a lot better and created a few chances.”
On what troubled Uganda in the contest, Mckinstry said: “I believe what we still need to do better is create the chances we did create. Once that came through at the level of buildup play and moving the ball effectively, so at least we showed improvement in the second half and we now have to watch the game and digest it but, really it was a case of we needed more confidence.
“I also think all the players know, they know we can do better, the second half was definitely a progression from the first half and we have to pick up from there and build on and again and again.”
On what he will do to regain the confidence of his players heading into their next match against Togo, Mckinstry explained: “We have got a big game in three days’ time now against Togo and it is a big game for them as well because obviously having lost to Morocco in their opening game, they will be hungry for points, so we got to put the players back together and make sure we have many people back to full fitness as possible.”
On whether the team picked injuries from the match against Rwanda, Mckinstry said: “Obviously our doctors will have to access Milton [Karisa], who pulled up with an injury after 12 minutes, we have to access his situation tomorrow [Tuesday], and see if he will be available for the next game.
“But it is all about putting the players back together, getting back to the training field, and really it is a case of removing the fear from the players because we know if they pass the ball.
“We know if they move it and play that one or two touch football and get it into our midfielders and get it into the feet of our wide forwards, we can be really effective but we didn’t do that enough today [Monday] and so we need to build on that and make sure the next two games we play that passing moving brand of football that can bring us success.”
Defending champions Morocco are topping the group with three points after their 1-0 win over Togo on Monday.