Leg one of the Uganda-Egypt double-header ended two days ago and leg two will happen on Tuesday. I wrote this column before Thursday’s game and do not know what transpired at Namboole.
Tuesday’s showdown will be the third time that the Cranes take on Africa’s most successful football side in 2017.
The first meeting, a narrow 1-0 victory for the Pharaohs in Port Gentil during this year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon, was settled by a late Abdallah Said goal in the 89th minutes.
Cranes were disciplined and did enough to frustrate their far more illustrious opponents but in the end, one moment of magic from arguably Egypt’s most celebrated talent today Mohamed Salah decided the day.
As the Pharaohs touched down at Entebbe International Airport on Thursday night, there arrival was a stark reminder of the gulf that exists between the two 2018 Fifa World Cup qualification opponents.
The seven-time Africa Cup of Nations champions arrived on a private plane before driving off to Sheraton Hotel.
For Egypt, travelling by charter is the rule. There are no two ways about it.
Such is their standing in the game that flights on commercial airlines are not an option.
And it is a system that is fixed in stone and everyone associated with their football – their FA, players, fans and sponsors – knows that that is how the national team travels for Afcon and World Cup qualifiers.
Cranes, in comparison, operate at a much lower level.
Travel by charter is a rarity. In fact Uganda Cranes has only travelled on a private plane twice – in 2012 for the away game in Ndola against Zambia and in 2015 for the preliminary World Cup qualification game in Lome against Togo.
For both trips, the team performed well; they were unlucky to lose 1-0 to the then African champions Zambia while they stunned Togo in its backyard.
Private plane plea
Ideally Uganda Cranes trips should all be by private plane. That is the most conducive way of travel for a team going to represent the flag of 37 million Ugandans everywhere they play.
However the ideal is not exactly what Cranes lives with on their travels.
There was a trip to Congo Brazzaville a few years ago when the national team had to undergo four or five stop-overs before they arrived in Brazzaville.
It was not unexpected that Congo Brazzaville would prevail, and they duly did.
They Egyptian Pharaohs are handled by coach Hector Cuper, a widely travelled, experienced and respected coach who has managed the game at the highest level.
Uganda Cranes on the other hand must make do with an interim technical team that has Moses Basena and Fred Kajoba, who are both being supported by Matia Lule and Ibrahim Sekagya.
The aforementioned four are a stop-gap as Fufa scouts for a foreign coach they can afford.
If Cuper was somehow relieved of his duties by Egypt tomorrow and became available on the market, it is a no-brainer that Uganda would not approach him for the vacant Cranes job.We can’t afford him, plain simple.
The less said about the wages the better because the Egyptian FA and ours are not in the same league when it comes to economic muscle.
The point here is that the Uganda Cranes, Fufa and the technical team including former coach Micho Sredojevic all deserve a pat on the back.
Uganda on paper has no business competing in the same group with a side as equipped and professionally motivated as Egypt.
Yet somehow the team has shown that it can trade punches with the continent’s strongest sides.
So one can only imagine how Uganda would perform if the team was granted the comforts enjoyed by their rivals; an imagination that will become nothing more than that for the better part of the future.