Cranes' Loss: A Nation In Grief


troche geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 150%; text-align: justify;”>Cranes brand t-shirts sold like hot cakes in Kampala shops and outside the stadium. Thousands of patriotic fans trekked long distances to Namboole to passionately cheer our brave Cranes to victory.

malady geneva;”>Over 30, 000 tickets, despite being high-priced, had been sold.

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Security in and around the stadium was water-tight. The country had painfully taken seven years clear with an unbeaten record at the Bweyogerere stadium. It was a death cage for Cranes’ opponents.

By kick off time, Namboole was three quarters full with cheering crowds.

Excited Cranes’ fans at Namboole on Saturday

Ugandans expected a triumph after so many painful years of missing the African Cup of Nations. All the country needed was 2-0 win over Zambia to sail through the qualifiers.

And the Cranes briefly lived to the fans’ expectations as Geoffrey Massa struck the net in the first half. This raised the nation’s hopes that victory was around the corner.

Thousands of patriotic fans arrive at Namboole

And the Cranes clawed their way to it with a fabulous performance. They dominated the match and at times missed goals by a whisker. The players’ ball control abilities were at their best. Passes were perfect. Andy Mwesigwa’s “iron dome” defence was impenetrable.

With the Chipolopolo sticking to a defensive style, the clinical Cranes adopted both defensive and attacking approaches at the same time, shaking the Zambians’ defence.

Fans want ‘wins’ for Cranes

However, the Cranes fell short of writing history when the second half ended without a second goal from their side.

It appeared the Zambians were determined to clinch a win from the penalties.

Massa struck the net in the first half

With Uganda leading with one goal, penalties would decide if Cranes would participate in the prestigious AFCON.

Uganda deserved a 2:0 win over Zambia to sail through the qualifiers

The country looked forward to a win. It would have been a national celebration; a day of joy, pride and satisfaction.

The dream would have come true. The dream of watching Cranes play in AFCON. The dream of winning the AFCON tournament. The dream of watching Cranes rise and shine on the continental level.

But Uganda lost a chance when Andy Mwesigwa and later Patrick Ochan missed penalties – leading to 9-8 win by Zambia.

Andy Mwesigwa missed a penalty (Intenet photo)

Ochan’s penalty kick was firmly tucked into Zambia goal keeper Kennedy Mweene’s chest – the nation went silent. Tears rolled down. Hearts were broken. Hopes were shattered. Dreams fell flat. Uganda looked doomed. The golden Cranes were good but not good enough.

Youthful Cranes fans entering Mandela National Stadium

Chimp Soccer Experts say while the nation should trust Coach Bobby Williamson’s judgment to leave Onyango for the penalty shoots, his substitute Dhaila is far better.

But with the wounded nation now recuperating from the Namboole trauma, there is need to pick a leaf from yesterday’s mistakes so as to be the best. Zambia will now defend their AFCON title. To be the best, Cranes must beat the best.

Cranes’ fans

Ugandans are sick of “we tried our best” rhetoric. All the country needs is victory, which we should all work toward realizing.

Former Cranes player, Ibrahim Sekagya said: “We should give Credit where it is due.

Players greet officials before kickoff

The fact remains that the Boy s(the entire Team) tried their hearts out and left the decision to the Almighty. Now all we have to look at ,Is how we can Penetrate through one day , because the fact of the matter is we need to Penetrate to make it for the young Generation because we really need it.“

Thousands braved the heat to watch Cranes

The comments on social networks such as Facebook confirm that indeed, the nation is in grief following the tragic Namboole loss.

Nabunje Suzan Kiyengo: For sure what did we do?

Princess Sarah Biryomumaisho: Unfortunately God helps those who help themselves….too bad our captain could not help us.

Security was tight in and out of the match

Lauben Matsiko: Mama Fina was not in action because of Red pepper stories. That she drove to Tanzania while we played Kilopolopo at Namboole.

Kimuli Joachim: Until some bad things like the confusion in Fufa and the two leagues, we won’t have the luck it takes .All we needed was Luck.

Ssentamu Ammie Phillip: We should stop self consolation. It is 34 years and still counting and we’re always saying we failed so slightly when will this end? Can’t you all see there is something wrong? If we don’t start saying the truth to the people who deserve it we shall get lies thinking they tried.

Zambia fans celebrating after the Chipolopolo win

Muwanguzi David: Stop this annoying stuff. It’s always the same. Even vs the Harambe Stars, Uganda cranes failed to make it through. They should stop playing soccer to avoid hurting people’s hearts.

Ojakal Moses: I hear Cranes are going to Liberia for world cup qualifiers, make sure you go with your luggage. When you lose just remain there. Thank you very much. Thank you very much and thank you very much indeed.


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