KAMPALA. François Omam Biyik and Roger Milla, then at the peak of their powers, came here in 1987 as part of Cameroon’s side that was beaten 3-1 by Uganda.
While Cranes failed to overturn a 5-1 first leg deficit, Uganda came close to knocking out the Indomitable Lions of the 1988 Africa Cup of Nations. That result, earned at Nakivubo, perhaps emphasizes Uganda Cranes’ ability to overcome some of Africa’s biggest stars over decades.
Yesterday, Uganda Cranes again overcame another African superstar, Liverpool’s mercurial forward Mohammed Salah.
His Egypt were beaten 1-0 by the hosts at Namboole in a 2018 World Cup group E qualifying game courtesy of Emmanuel Okwi’s well-taken goal in the 51st minute.
Salah has made a stellar start to his time in England having joined from Italian giants AS Roma.
At Namboole, all eyes were on him. Salah had a mixed game and was largely kept under wraps by Kenya-based defender Godfrey Walusimbi, ably supported by Joseph Ochaya (plays in Zambia).
Salah only had two moments to turn the game on its head. The first, a header required Denis Onyango to pull off a save at his near post.
His over the top pass was met by Saleh Saleh only for Africa’s best Onyango to tip over as Cranes held on for what is arguably Uganda’s biggest result ever, beating Egypt after 52 years.
Those who have prospered at Namboole where Uganda has only lost thrice are South Africa’s Benni McCarthy who scored the lone goal in a 1-0 victory during the 2006 World Cup campaign.
In the same campaign, Ghana’s Asmoah Gyan and Michael Essien starred in the 1-all draw here as did Emmanuel Adebayor’s hold-up play when Togo beat Cranes 1-0 to lock the latter out of the 2015 Afcon.
However, it has been largely the rule for these African stars to choke while the world will never know if 1995 World Player of the Year George Weah would have made a difference in 1999.
Philip Ssozi scored in a 1-0 victory over his Liberia while Weah was stuck in traffic. The familiar tale is of a Nwankwo Kanu-captained Nigeria losing 2-1 here.
His uninspiring display is similar to Adebayor’s when Uganda battered Togo 3-0 in the ongoing 2018 World Cup campaign.
Ghana’s Andre Ayew has also left Namboole crestfallen after Cranes beat them 1-0 through a Savio Kabugo header in November, 2014. Salah was walking a thin line yesterday.