Petros Kausiyo in RUBAVU, Rwanda
UGANDA coach Milutin “Micho’’ Sredojevic has expressed his admiration for his Warriors counterpart Callisto Pasuwa and is concerned that Zimbabwe could end the mathematical chance that his side have of securing an African Nations Championships quarter-final berth.
Zimbabwe and Uganda meet in their final Group D game at Umuganda Stadium here tomorrow with the Warriors playing to salvage some lost pride by ending a disastrous campaign with a win.
The Cranes will be hoping that they can win and gatecrash their way into the quarter-finals.
Zambia will square off against Mali in Kigali and both matches will simultaneously kick off at 4pm.
The Cranes have found themselves in a precarious position after managing just a point from their two games against Mali and Zambia with their 1-0 defeat by Chipolopolo leaving them in third place.
Sredojevic knows he has the Warriors to take care of first and hopes that Chipolopolo can do the other part of the job for his charges.
The Serbian coach, with 15 years of coaching experience in African football, reiterated that he was a keen follower of the Zimbabwean game and revealed his admiration for the Warriors and his respect for their coach Pasuwa.
“I share great respect for Zimbabwe and Zimbabwean football and I have great respect for my great colleague coach Callisto Pasuwa and I know what he has gone through and what players he is missing.
“I know that Zimbabweans are proud people, they want to go out with pride and they have a point to prove that they came here for a reason.
“I have deeply analysed both matches which have been very much unfortunate to lose. They had their chances against Zambia and against Mali and I feel they have been harshly punished by the unpredictable nature of football and they lost matches they dominated.
“Statistics have shown that we have been far ahead and after losing our last matches now it is a great chance for both teams to get their confidence back and to start looking ahead to the AFCON matches. We go to Burkina Faso and Zimbabwe will go to Swaziland,’’ Micho said.
The Cranes coach also argued that that both his team and the Warriors had been “unlucky in their assignments’’ and noted that the injury to his skipper and chief striker Faruku Miya and goalkeeper Isima Watenga in the opening match had disturbed their rhythm.
Miya, who plays for Vipers Sports Club, is still to recover and would reportedly have to pass a fitness test in order to face Zimbabwe.
“Both of our teams do not deserve to be where they are at the moment and whoever has eyes has seen and the statistics don’t lie. I think Group D has been one of the most competitive in this tournament,” he said.
“Knowing Zimbabwean players I am expecting a close game and only the game control factors will decide this match, I am talking about how to use the space and numbers when you attack or defend.
“Just like Zimbabwe, 70 percent of the team are Under-23 and we are building, so instead of always putting pressure on the players to say you must win, you must win we are looking at other areas that can assist them like mental strength and the technical and tactical aspects of the game.
“Physical strength they are okay and they are ready for the match. Like I said they are both young teams and I think only the very small details will decide the match.” Pasuwa who took his charges for a two-and-half-hour workout at the venue before giving them some time off for the afternoon said he will be hoping to see “further improvement from his charges’’.
“There was a change for the better when you compare the first game and the second one and I think we will continue to see that improvement.
“We are not under pressure but we are expecting a physical game from Uganda and we have to neutralise them and just like we did against Mali we have to try and impose our game and we should not give them a chance to play the short passes they enjoy.
“We have also been working harder to learn to convert our chances. Inasmuch as luck is part of football, we cannot afford to spend the whole day missing chances and we need to show that we have learnt from our mistakes in terms of defending from set pieces and from re-starts,’’ Pasuwa said.
The Warriors coach was also happy to see defenders Elisha Muroiwa and Blessing Moyo fully recovered and in contention for places in tomorrow’s game. Team doctor Soman Mudariki had given Muroiwa three days to recover and has now certified him fit to return to the heart of defence.