Next year’s African Cup of Nations will be missing many giants in African soccer like Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, Cameroon and South Africa but last weekend’s deciding match between Uganda and Kenya was much harder for Ugandans to take in.
The were top of the table as they went into the final game with their neighbours Kenya and they needed a home win to seal their place, the first time they would have done so since 1978.
The expectations were high as Ugandans looked to their team The Cranes to break the 33 year jinx. Ugandans were looking to the stadium to show their nationalism and pride but the day before the match in Kampala, Uganda’s crucial striker and Scottish Premier league club Hearts player David Obua was controversially booted from the camp. Obua’s was ejected out of the national team after he refused to meet with President Museveni who had called on the team at their last training. The decision left many in disbelief.
That evening before the game Obua announced his resignation from the national team and pointed out the fact that Uganda government officials were not supportive of the game but they were only waiting for moments like these for photo opportunities. Before the President visited the Cranes camp, Uganda’s Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi and the First son Col. Muhoozi Kainerugaba had visited the team and pledged thousands of dollars.
For a whole week Ugandans used Twitter to share news and give morale to their team. The hashtags #UgandaCranes and #WeGo were used. On Saturday October 8, on the eve of the anniversary of their 49th independence, many Ugandans were in tears as their dream of making a comeback to the continent’s tournament were crashed after a nil-nil draw with Kenya. Kenyans had come to Uganda with little to lose and not much to gain.
The game also had edgy political issues as the Prime Minister of Kenya Raila Odinga was in attendance. The Kenyan fans kept on chanting Migingo, a disputed island on the border with Uganda in Lake Victoria.
@Maureenagena said that whoever would win would take Migingo Island:
Funny that `Whoever wins takes migingo Island` #wego #ugandacranes
Ugandans partly blamed their failure to score on the absence of Obua and the Federation of Uganda Football Association (FUFA) management. Ugandans were heartbroken and those who went to Twitter discussed the lost opportunity. @Elirri said unless Ugandan politics which acts as distraction is addressed, Uganda will not go for the continental tournament.
@joydoreenbiira said the problem internal wrangles within the national team management:
@obed247 #UgandaCranes has got internal wrangles that in one way or another were sprout by #ObuaSuspension #ItsTime2digDirt out #JustSaying
In the wake of the defeat a Facebook group called “THROW MULINDWA AND HIS GROUP OUT OF FUFA” was created calling for the resignation of the FUFA (Federation of Uganda Soccer Association) management. Members are also busy discussing the reasons why Uganda lost.
Mpiima M David said:
When you see a formerly party animal keep indoors, just know they have hanged their dancing shoes, Mulindwa has failed to deliver and we MUST get rid of him
Shawn Mubiru said that Football administrators in Uganda didn’t pay attention to the game but rather the money that politicians were giving them head of the game:
The administrators of football never thought about the game but the cash they made through abusing the process of ticketing and also the donation from individual political leaders. That is why team morale and togetherness was abused.
The focus shifted from qualification to how much each one will be getting at the end of the day. No wonder I hear one delegate was found selling tickets at the gate at 35k each!
Samuel W'Mugeni said Ugandan fans have two options:
Colleagues, the next General Assembly of FUFA comes in 2013, we therefore have two options, wait until 2013 to throw out Mulindwa and his group OR Find a SHORT CUT. Now what could that short cut be ????
Jose Irumba questioned the ejection of David Obua:
You image those goons didn't know that since 2006 Uganda Cranes has never scored a goal with out Obua on pitch.
Who bewitched them?:
Am reliably informed that the goons are organizing a press conference this afternoon during which they want to officially disband some professionals like Obua. I wonder who bewitched these clowns.