KAMPALA- When Uganda Lady Cranes left for Tunisia, their aim was to put up a good show against Africa’s best teams.
There was also an outside chance of qualifying to next year’s Commonwealth Games, if Uganda had finished among the top two Commonwealth Nations. The two slots went to South Africa and Kenya. South Africa also qualified for the 2018 7s World Cup after beating Kenya 17-12.
Grouped in Pool A, Uganda lost 15-10 to Tunisia, beat Morocco 29-00 and lost 24-00 to South Africa.
That set them on a quarter final path, where they defeated Madagascar 12-05. In the semi-finals, Uganda lost 27-00 to South Africa, and then lost 14-05 to Tunisia in the third/fourth place play-off.
Last year, Uganda finished fourth in Zimbabwe. Coach Helen Koyokoyo Buteme and Captain Charlotte Mudoola decided to read from the same script, and are looking at the glass as half-full rather than half-empty.
“Our team was the youngest and least experienced, so I think in finishing fourth, we did great. We just need to keep them together and continue from there,” said Mudoola.
Five players made their debuts in Tunisia, and Buteme’s target is the 2020 Olympics. Currently, all but two players on the team that went to Tunisia are eligible to play U-21. Mudoola is the only one above 30, Aisha Nakityo turns 25 this year.
Samiya Ayikoru and Grace Auma turned 21 this year. Flavia Agenerwot will be 21 in December. Gilder Azikuru and Peace Wokorach turned 20 this year.
Juliet Nandawula and Justine Namagembe will be 20 in November and December, respectively. Peace Lekuru, Emilly Lekuru and Immaculate Mufuwa are all 17.
If team manager Regina Lunyolo’s words to the team are anything to go by, then there is reason to hope for a better future.
“Thank you Uganda Lady Cranes for a good fight. You tackled very hard, defended with your lives and gave it your best. With better preparations next time, the ladies have what it takes to win it all,” she said.