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Date: 25 March 2019

  Eastern African - Soccer

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Uganda's Failure to qualify, what went wrong and whom to blame?

[Posted 09 Oct 2011]
[By Charles Malingha]

Uganda’s  Africa Cup of Nations final group J  fixture, on the eve of it’s  49th Independence anniversay, ended with a mixture of humiliation and controversy as they were held to a goalless draw by the Kenya's Harambee Stars on Saturday.

The sounds from vuvuzela, ululation and dancing that defined the mood of the fans for hours before the match, turned into moans and abject dejection and despair as they quietly walked out of the stadium, with some fans letting tears freely flow.

The players could not hide the depression as well, while some cried uncontrollably, others lay motionless on the pitch.

"It’s been a good campaign. We gave the fans some great moments and scored lots of goals. I am devastated most especially for the players who gave their all throughout the campaign," Bobby Williamson, the Cranes coach, said.

Yesterday’s draw means the Cranes now lose out to Angola, who were 2-0 winners over Guinea Bissau to top Group J with 12 points.

Uganda, who had to win to end the 34-year wait since  last playing at the Nations Cup in 1978, have yet again failed on the big occasion. Saturday was reminiscent of the year 1993 when Adam Ssemugabi had to score a penalty against Nigeria for Uganda to qualify, but squandered it.

What went wrong?
Kenya’s coach Zedekiah Otieno partly explains it.

"Uganda have themselves to blame," he said.

 "They had the chances but failed to utilise them."

Brian Umony, who had a spirited game despite failing to find the net, should have scored when he turned James Situma inside the area but his low drive went inches wide.

Moses Oloya, a second half substitute for tired Vincent Kayizzi on the right midfield, should have connected the cross from his fellow substitute Mike Mutyaba, who came on for Mike Sserumaga, first time rather than control with Kenyan goalkeeper Arnold Origi Otieno at his mercy.

Before coming off, Sserumaga himself should have buried the ghost but his shot shook the woodwork.

Geoffrey Massa won good headers early on but failed to have an impact on the game with some poor decisions, and when his replacement Geoffrey Sserunkuma came on late, he had his drive in the area saved brilliantly by Origi.

Origi was impressive on the day, standing firm every time Uganda probed. Tonny Mawejje in the midfield at times carelessly lost possession but Musa Mudde covered for him.

The hunger was evident in the Cranes team. One could see it. Onyango was less troubled in goal, ensuring Uganda finish the campaign without conceding a goal at home, but that clean ball from the midfield to the strikers and a smart finish lacked.

Bobby, knowing the Cranes had to score, especially that Angola were leading in Bissau, did what he exactly had to do--bringing on attackers Mutyaba, Sserunkuma and Oloya--but the Stars stood their ground.

Yes, Uganda played well, but in this business it is goals, not displays, that count.

Missed Obua?
However, yesterday’s loss will be overshadowed forever in the minds of soccer fans and the players as they reflect on the moment that robbed them of a glorious opportunity.

That moment came just 24 hours before the match, when Cranes utility player David Obua was suspended by Bobby over what he said was indiscipline. Thousands of fans who braved the morning rain and hoped that this move would not affect the game could not hold their disappointment afterward; all blaming Fufa boss Lawrence Mulindwa for the loss.

The suspension of top scorer Obua has been pointed out as partly the reason for the failure. The timing by Fufa to send him away from camp with less than 24 hours before the country’s most important game in three decades told of amateur administrative decisions.

The jury is still out on whether the Obua incident had a hand in Uganda failing to score for the first time at home this campaign. He could still have played and the result been the same Yet again, history will show that Cranes have not scored a goal without Obua on the pitch since 2006.

The Hearts forward, who also missed the barren reverse fixture last October, has ended the campaign as Cranes’ top scorer with two goals in four games.

Cranes, Obua, Bobby’s futures
Well, the Cranes can get back to the drawing board and prepare for the preliminaries of the 2013 Nations Cup in South Africa. Had Uganda qualified for next year’s finals, they would have played just one home and away engagement with any team that emerged from the preliminaries.


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