Ugandan coach no longer thinks Zimbabwe is the weakest team in Group A
IN April, Ugandan coach Sebastien Desabre said the Zimbabwe Warriors were the weakest and unlucky team in Group A at the AFCON tournament.
But a strong performance by the Warriors in their opening Nations Cup game against hosts Egypt, in a losing cause, appears to have changed the mindset of Desabre, whose Cranes started their campaign on a flier after deservedly beating the DR Congo 2-0 on Saturday.
“Zimbabwe seems the least lucky team of the group but I know their squad and their great qualities. The group is complicated even though Egypt is the favourite to top it and our team will compete for the second place spot,” Desabre told Goal in April, statements which angered many Warriors fans.
Desabre now says his next game against Zimbabwe on Wednesday is a tough one. It’s a game the Warriors can’t afford to lose, although a draw, in the worst case circumstances, could still be a good result in the event they beat the DRC in their final match.
“We have to work harder because there are two big games ahead, Zimbabwe and Egypt,” Desabre said. “We have our plans. We know that you need a minimum of four points to reach the next round.
“We only have three points now and the players know that. To claim a point against Zimbabwe and against Egypt won’t be easy and then the three points we have already. The opponents are not easy sides.
“Winning two matches in the group stage means qualifying for the next round [without doubt]. Last time (Gabon 2017), we could not get through, so this time, we are aiming to reach the next round, and we’ll see what happens next.”
The Warriors have never qualified beyond the group stages of this tournament while the resurgent Cranes, who ended a 19-year wait for a return to the AFCON finals two years ago, won their first Nations Cup game since 1978, with a 2-0 win over a lifeless DRC.
The quality of the Ugandan performance, in a game in which they would possibly have won by a very wide margin, has caught the eye of many here, but Desabre, who suggested the Warriors would be the weakest Group A team during the build-up to this tournament, isn’t taking anything for granted now.
Only eight teams, the six bottom teams and the two third placed teams who would have an inferior points or goal tally to the best four third-placed teams, will also be eliminated.