Uganda Cranes needs to develop a new strategy to defeat Malawi

The Uganda Cranes team that suffered a 3-0 humiliating defeat to Tanzania in Dar es Salaam on Sunday.

Teamwork is such an integral part of any football team’s success. The overall contributions of individuals in every position cannot be underestimated.

However, it’s imperative to note that Uganda’s Nations Cup qualifier against Malawi at Namboole Stadium today is one fixture whose outcome will hinge so much on which front three attacking players come to the party.

Uganda and Malawi have clashed in a couple of friendly fixtures in recent years. Both sides are familiar with each other’s strengths following Cranes’ 2-1 win in 2009 and a goalless draw in 2018.

But considering how physical and close last year’s duel was, there is enough to suggest that the outcome of this particular game will come down to finer technicalities in the attack.

Both Cranes and Malawi’s Flames are blessed with enviable attacking quality that could swing this game in their favor.

While Johnathan McKinstry’s side will rely on a three-man attack of Emmanuel Okwi, Farouk Miya and Patrick Kaddu, Malawi will look to their trident of Gabadinho Mhango, Yamikani Chester and Gerald Phiri Junior.

The three combined to dispatch South Sudan with a 1-0 win in Blantyre on Wednesday. Mhango scored a superb goal after feeding off Phiri in a game the Flames dominated from start to finish.

Cranes will only hope that the Okwi-Miya-Kaddu combination outweighs all that the Gabadinho-Yami- Kani-Phiri will throw at the other end. Home or away, Malawi always play an attacking game, applying consistent pressure with speed and power through the middle.

That and the devastating abilities of Mhango are what Cranes must deal with. If the game against Burkina Faso exposed anything, it was Cranes’ unproductive play going forward and lack of balance at the back.

Cranes full-backs Bevis Mugabi and Joseph Ochaya lack the discipline and tactical awareness required of a modern-day full-back. Central defenders Murushid Juuko and Timo- thy Awany are still a work in progress.

The two will need cover from midfielders Mike Aziira and Khalid Aucho to frustrate Malawi and allow the front three of Miya, Okwi and Kaddu to work their magic.

When Miya shows up, the rest of the team does. When Miya makes the right deliveries, Cranes score at will. Miya comes into this game in fine form. He has scored five goals in the Turkish Super League so far, just four short of the league’s top scorer Adis Jahovic (Yeni Malatyaspor).

The 2021 qualifiers have 12 groups, each with four teams. The group winners and second-placed teams will earn a ticket to the 2021 showpiece in Cameroon.

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Muwanga Ronald is editor in chief of the UGANDANZ news website. He was formerly editorial director of UGANDANZ.COM, overseeing the publication’s digital operations. Before joining UGANDANZ in December 2018, Ronald was managing editor of NILE HOST In 2014, he was a finalist for the UJA Awards for Young Journalists for his reporting on the women's emancipation. Under his leadership NILE HOST won Media Industry Newsletter's Best of the Web award in 2018. A graduate of Makerere University, Ronald speaks Luganda and French and lives in Kampala with his wife and two children.