Mike Mutebi has refused to blame wonderkid striker Mohamed Shaban after he missed KCCA FC's CAF Champions League defeat by Esperance due to his impending move to Orlando Pirates.
The Tunisian giants beat 10-men KCCA FC 1-0 at the Mandela National Stadium, Namboole on Saturday to reach the quarter finals, with substitute Haithem Jouini netting the lone goal.
KCCA were muted without wonderkid striker Shaban as he nears a switch to PSL, but Mutebi doesn't believe that his absence was decisive.
"We did not miss Shaban at all because when he has been around how many goals has he scored?" Mutebi asked journalists after the match.
"We created three clearcut scoring chances and did not utilise them," he added. "Esperance also created some chances and scored one.
"Losing today has reduced our chances of making it to the quarter finals, but we shall continue to play our way because we need to make sure that the young lads continue to get better and better."
Esperance lost goalkeeper Charles Lukwago to a second bookable offence, but Mutebi expressed disappointment with the performance of his midfield.
"My midfielders Muzamir Mutyaba and Ibrahim Saddam Juma did not play well today and that was one of our problems, but generally Esperance were very organised.
"If Esperance can win away from home then we can also win away from home in Egypt."
Victory takes Esperance through to the final eight, although coach Khaled Ben Yahia is determined not to take his foot off the gas and end the group stage in style.
"Our target is to make sure we win our remaining two games so that we get to the quarter final stage unbeaten," he told journalists.
"We played against a strong KCCA FC side, studied their patterns well and knew how to react," he concluded. "I am happy we scored the important goal, although we should have scored more."
After four matches, Esperance lead Group A on 10 points, with Ahly second on seven. Township Rollers and KCCA are third and fourth on three points each.