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Date: 26 March 2019

  Eastern African - Soccer

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Loyal Cranes fans cheer their team on

[Posted 22 Jun 2012]
[By Charles Malingha]
Loyal Cranes fans cheer their team on

FORGET the empty stands common with league matches. When it gets to the national soccer team-the Cranes, Ugandan supporters could be unrivalled.

While many of the stadiums across the continent had huge empty patches in the weekend’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, it was a completely different story in Uganda.

The 42,000 seater Mandela National Stadium at Namboole was not only almost filled to capacity, but the spectators’ passion was also unprecedented.

Ecstatic fans morale-boosted the national soccer side — the Cranes — to a 4-0 victory that put Uganda a step closer to qualifying for Africa’s top soccer showpiece.

Mariam Ssengendo, a manager at fuel station in Kampala said anything to do with the Cranes playing at home will drive her crazy.

"I don’t follow any other team other than the Cranes. I feel a personal attachment and I will give up time for anything to go and support our boys," the mother of four confessed.

Chanting and vuvuzela blowing fans started psyching up the team hours before kick-off. When it got to the match proper, the support was also nonstop. Celebrations thereafter continued long into the night.

National team support has intensified to such levels that Ugandans now even beat South Africans at using the vuvuzela. These long plastic horns, which originated from South Africa, were on Saturday blown throughout the game.

These are not the Ugandans who in past were known to only awaken when their side got an attacking opportunity.

This time the hosts were active even when their side was on the receiving end. It is the boos that filled the air in such moments.

Creativity at play

"This is unbelievable. You people now beat us at our own game. I have not seen such enthusiasm before," confessed a South African, Sam Itumeleng.

And it wasn’t only about shouting and blowing. The fans’ creativity also stood out. Imagine such wording: "Who will stop Cranes @Namboole? Spain…..No, Mama Phina….No. God……Still Loading."

The fans also expressed their passion through crazy acts like undressing to turning sections of Kampala- Jinja highway into a dance floor.

Even President Yoweri Museveni, who was travelling from Mbale, was sucked into the fanfare as his convoy was slowed down by the chanting and merry-making fans trekking all the way from Namboole.


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