Disappointing. Shame on you - the players for sacrificing our preparations and rhythm by naïvely expecting your grievances to be resolved in 48 hours and the Federation for allowing such circumstances to fester in the first place.
By the time you read this we could be on our way back to Entebbe or moving on to the quarter finals and it won’t matter. What matters is how much we have all enjoyed being Ugandan and yet how in a moment of madness we spoilt it all.
The pride and the sense of community that had people who wouldn’t ordinarily bother about football ask how the “group qualification thing works”, was something to behold until it became “nothing ever works”.
In Gabon 2017, we were just happy to be there. It had been 40 years coming and it was as if we were perfectly at liberty to pursue participation as an end, without being saddled with the burden of actually competing. 2019 was supposed to be different – and it seemed it would be. Under-dog-talk still persisted but over the last three weeks the Cranes played with zero chills and produced this blank cheque of hope, upon which millions of Ugandans scribbled.
And then the bomb rained in on us and crashed our hopes. Apparently, the Cranes went on strike on Tuesday night over unfulfilled promises. The details are a contest of selfish positions, but the main bone is that the Federation have not yet honored a pledge to give each player $10,000 extra for reaching the last 16.
In response, FUFA quickly shared a communique showing a code of conduct purportedly signed by all players in Egypt, which lists all compensation due. Fufa also says compensation is an ongoing matter and that each player has already received $15,000 due to them to-date. It is their word against that of the players and I don’t care where the truth lies, but what is clear to me is that both the federation and the
players have chosen a rotten time to abandon their responsibilities and fail an entire nation.
I say rotten because you don’t give us reason to believe all this drama is behind us and behave otherwise on the eve of our first round of 16, in four decades. We were supposed to be defined by a willingness to compete and we saw that briefly gave our endearment in return. The energy we transmitted from the stands, television and social media, straight on to the pitch was supposed to allow us to imagine how things could be and not embolden us into making stupid decisions.
Yes, eventually even the most motivated of teams will be tested and we really don’t have a memory of how to behave at this stage. But that still isn’t an excuse to ignore the power of the passion blowing us on or how quickly an underdog can become a contender. We kept the faith and so should have you.
So, shame on you - the players for sacrificing our preparations and rhythm by naïvely expecting your grievances to be resolved in 48 hours and the Federation for allowing such circumstances to fester in the first place.