By Mubatsi Asinja Habati
On October 13, many Ugandans left Namboole Stadium downhearted. The Cranes, Uganda’s national soccer team, painfully lost the crucial game that would have seen them qualify for the 2013 African Nations Cup to Zambia’s Chipolopolo, the reigning African soccer champions.
If anything, the Cranes put a good fight against the Chipolopolo after finishing the 90 minutes as winners but not enough to avoid the much dreaded penalties. It was at the spot kicks that Ugandans were heartbroken by the Zambians after scoring 9 goals against the Cranes’ 8.
Sports is one of the few events that unite Ugandans. And Ugandans have truly shown their support for the country’s soccer team’s international matches but complaints of little or no government investment in the sector abound. In the just concluded 2013 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) hundreds of Ugandans braved the long road journey to Ndola, Zambia on the first leg to show their support for the Cranes. Unfortunately, the Cranes lost to Zambia. Even, then the fans did not despair. They kept hoping for better results.
|Uganda Cranes fans at Namboole on Oct. 13 (Daily Monitor net Photo)|
At the same time, I know most Ugandan soccer fans are tired of “we nearly won had it not been for the penalties”; “we almost qualified but…” and am equally aware of the general belief that the Cranes team that encountered the Chipolopolo last Saturday exhibited great potential. If only we could stop pointing accusing fingers and nurture this potential I see in the new Cranes team, we can achieve much more and the sky will be the limit.
I think the Cranes staged a good fight in spite of their failure to qualify for 2013 African Cup of Nations. Yes, there can never be two winners but in my opinion the boys did their part. Maybe this is the time to do a Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis of Uganda's soccer as we look forward for a better performance next time.
My friend thinks I am being too optimistic. He had this to say: “We forgot to question the role of Uganda Olympic Committee when Stephen Kiprotich brought the gold medal; and certainly we are not going to do the SWOT analysis on Soccer and the management of Federation of Uganda Football Association (FUFA). We are a nation of excuses. Did we go to play well or to qualify for AFCON 2013? Why should we always wait for the last minutes? If we play so well why don't we qualify after the first few games? I could go on and on but my point is this is a problem of the general society where we lack effective leadership and strategy and unless we find remedy for it.”
There, my friend raises quite interesting observations. But, I have a different view. For me I have chosen not to lament. Yes, there are leadership issues almost in every sector of this country. But I believe our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.
Look at Kiprotich, he succeeded against odds and perhaps this can be an inspiration and above all a wakeup call for those in leadership positions; that's if they care to listen. Recently, I wrote a blog on Uganda @50 where Mr President chooses to buy a million dollar car when roads are filled with potholes and hospitals are inadequately staffed and without drugs.
This is where your leadership issue comes in maybe. But, I insist the Cranes boys did all they could to qualify but may be it was not their day. I am still optimistic that given better organisation of Team Uganda, we can do even better next time.
To begin with, we need to know what our strengths, weaknesses; threats and opportunities are then take advantage of our strength as we close the gaps in our soccer industry. I still believe we have talent and we can make it. But again one thing to remember in football is this idea of "luck" which I very much see on the side of Zambians.
I would say congratulations Uganda Cranes for giving team Zambia some hard time all through the second round of penalties; it's just luck. But again we can’t keep blaming failure to bad luck; we should fix the gaps especially governance issues in Uganda’s football.
I don’t support the idea of people turning rowdy and baying for the blood of FUFA president, Lawrence Mulindwa because there are the right channels to follow to address such matters. I think those calling for the sacking of Cranes’ coach, Bobby Williamson, are missing the point. In my opinion, Mr Williamson deserves another chance with the team.
In future, the Cranes should be able to maintain a clean score sheet in earlier games instead of keeping us carrying all our eggs in the one basket of the last minutes match. Remember, our greatest strength is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.