Now or never is a tired cliche in sport but in the case of Uganda’s 2018 World Cup aspirations, it does indeed come down to 90 minutes at Namboole today.
The penultimate round of Group E’s qualifiers will in all likelihood reveal whether Uganda continues dreaming of representation at next year’s showpiece event or not.
And lest we forget, today’s events at Namboole will be closely scrutinised in the cities of Port Said, Alexandria, Luxor, Suez, Shubra El-Kheima, and Cairo. It is not only Uganda Cranes fans who will be on tenterhooks, such is the significance of today’s game.
In recent years Ghana and Uganda have played one another so many times that there is little justification in having to spend to tactical and technical research on either side.
We now know that games between Ghana and Uganda are low-scoring. We know that Ghana have disjointed superstars but Uganda has a committed bunch of average footballers. We know that Ghana respect Uganda. We know that Uganda do not fear the Black Stars. The list of familiar things between the two teams can go on and on.
It explains why Uganda will walk into Namboole today knowing that victory against the West African giants is within reach. The Ghana team that travelled to Kampala is without Andre Ayew, Jordan Ayew and Asamoah Gyan, but even with them Cranes would still have reason to be confident.
The 2018 Fifa World Cup is not one that should have any Ugandan stressing. That said, qualification to Russia would be a surprise gift. Realistically Uganda football has not grown to the level of demanding World Cup qualification.
Football in Uganda is still teething in many aspects and our ambitions should mostly be centred around bettering our local product that the league is and making Africa Cup of Nations qualification a habit.
So when Cranes line up against Ghana, the boys should merely enjoy the adventure and make it last to the final day. Denis Onyango, Hassan Wasswa and Emmanuel Okwi must play knowing that no one will point an accusing finger in the event that qualification ends as a tall order.
And the Ghana that will face Moses Basena’s team is realistically out of the reckoning for qualification to Russia, something which should make them vulnerable.
It helps Cranes that Namboole is very formidable home ground for the national team and that government released Shs1b on Thursday, which means the players bonuses and allowances from previous campaigns have been cleared to nil.
Ghana have never beaten Uganda at Namboole - their three trips in Kampala have resulted in two 1-0 losses and a 1-1 draw - and that wretched run looks set to continue given the big game temperament that Cranes have built since coach Micho Sredojevic and Basena assumed the reins.
On Tuesday night, the Lugogo Arena staged perhaps the most competitive, top level basketball showdown in the history of Ugandan basketball.
The game between City Oilers of Uganda and Patriots of Rwanda was high on tactical acumen, intensity, passion and excitement.
Leads were traded all through and although the final score ended 77-73 in favour of Oilers, the difference between the two teams was less than the four-point margin.
The Zone V basketball Championships end today at Lugogo and if today’s final is half as thrilling as Tuesday, then we are in for a treat.
This week Ugandan sport suffered the setback of three key national team ruggers vanishing for greener pastures.
Ugandan sport has had to live with varying episodes of athletes running away from camp for the illusion of better life in kyeyo.
It is a trend that will not stop for as long as sport is run in an amateurish way and the economy is limping.
The three ruggers did what most Ugandans would have done under the circumstances.