Uganda/Ghana: Isinde Dropped After Ghana Defeat

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Port-Gentil — Another boiling day here in Gabon and another boiling issue for Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic to contend with. The Serbian coach used the word ‘silly’ to describe the clanger Isaac Isinde dropped to hand Ghana a marginal win in the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations tournament here in Gabon.

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Freshly condemned and soon to be punished, Isinde’s hopes of using Africa’s flagship football tournament as a platform to get back into employment — he is unattached since leaving Ethiopian outfit St George — are dead in the Atlantic Ocean waters that hug Port-Gentil’s white sand coastline.

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Since losing to Ghana on Tuesday, a slow drip of information has seeped into the Cranes fabric. Whatever Isinde does at Uganda’s Stade Sogara training base to gently remind his inquisitors of his potential looks to be counting for naught. “The technical team seems to think he is mentally frail. He hasn’t recovered from the mistake he made,” an official who is not authorised to speak for the team said.

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It appears Micho is getting set to give more fodder to critics who deem him to be too vindictive. This as he prepares to pair Hassan Wasswa Mawanda and Murshid Juuko at the heart of Cranes’ rearguard during Saturday’s match against record African champions Egypt.

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Juuko, who early this month suffered the emotional malaise of losing his newly born triplets, missed Tuesday’s match through suspension. Unlike Isinde, the Tanzania-based defender has not been written off as a sentimental basket case.

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Mental toughness

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When Juuko attended a training session in Kampala barely hours after the death of one of the triplets (the two others would die a few days later), Micho lauded the defender’s mental fortitude. Uganda will certainly need lots of mental fortitude when they face Egypt in a must-not-lose match. One, though, cannot help but wonder whether Juuko has the tools to deal with what the silky Egyptians will throw at him. Could Isinde’s absence leave a deeper bruise?

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“We’ve always warned him about being too confident to such an extent that he is complacent,” another team official grumbled.

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Indications, though, are that Isinde’s cerebral style could be the antidote that the doctor ordered for the match against Egypt. Some observers believe Isinde’s impeccable game reading skills would be best put to use against Egypt. Elsewhere, Juuko’s approach of being tenacious to the point of being studiously conservative has hallmarks of something Egypt’s Pharaohs could exploit.

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If there is anything Ibrahim Sekagya’s advance to sainthood showed us, it is not to write off the suitability of a magisterial style even when errors are committed.

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YESTERDAY’S RESULTS – GROUP A

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Gabon 1 Burkina Faso 1

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Guinea Bissau 1 Cameroon 2

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