by Dean Ammi
Ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations, I was lucky enough to speak to Uganda manager Milutin Sredojevic and get his views on the upcoming tournament.
“For me, we are not under any pressure. The pressure is on the big names Egypt and Ghana. For us, we just want to develop individually so that we are reaching the required levels that will once make us not only participants but contenders. So we are a team in development that is not flying high thinking we can achieve something.“
Uganda qualified after finishing with 13 points in Group D. They won four out of their six qualification matches and did not concede a single goal at home.
“AFCON is the biggest showpiece of African football. Uganda is a country that has only 30% of the population that is not below 40 years old.
We are one young nation. Therefore, many people are growing up in a country that has never been in the Africa Cup of Nations. Each match that we are playing is like a final for us.”
Sredojevic has managed some of the biggest clubs on the continent, winning 12 league and cup titles in his career in total during this spell. In 2013, he was appointed manager of the Ugandan national team.
“After 39 years, you cannot go to a competition and expect to win. We are going step by step. We want our first goal after 39 years. We want our first point after 39 years. We want our first win after 39 years. And we want our first passage to the quarter-finals after 39 years. If we succeed and pass through then it’s like winning the competition. But you know how football is very funny. Greece in 2004 in the European Championships. Zambia in 2013. In football, miracles are possible.“
Uganda have also made a very promising start to their World Cup qualification campaign with four points from their opening two matches.
“I try all the time to cool my players down and keep them firmly on the ground. I live under the philosophy when it’s good, do not fly and when it’s bad do not give up. We are looking to every match without any pressure. When we wear our jerseys of Uganda, we are human beings against human beings. Respect the opponent but do not over-respect. When you over-respect, you get frozen or your legs are freezing. Therefore, we are enjoying our game and we will see how far this fairy-tale story can continue.“
Dean Ammi was speaking to Milutin Sredojevic.