Big weekend for Africa, more so for the Cranes

The African Nations Cup is back, folks. This could be the weekend during which South Africa gets eliminated, Nigeria falls back to the brink, Botswana joins Uganda at the top of Group G (Botswana lost 1-0 to Comoros on Thursday) or Swaziland tops a qualification campaign group for the first time ever

Saturday March 26 2016



Cranes coach Micho. File photo

Cranes coach Micho. File photo 

By Moses Banturaki

The African Nations Cup is back, folks. This could be the weekend during which South Africa gets eliminated, Nigeria falls back to the brink, Botswana joins Uganda at the top of Group G (Botswana lost 1-0 to Comoros on Thursday) or Swaziland tops a qualification campaign group for the first time ever. So it promises to be a ballistic weekend of football and not least, our double header against Burkina Faso.
For Uganda, this is a tremendous opportunity to put daylight between us and the chasing pack of Burkina Faso, Comoros and Botswana. But Burkina Faso will be looking to catch up. If they lose both games to Cranes, they can kiss qualification goodbye.
Many of us will still bear the psychological scars of what was a comparatively winnable game against Kenya in 2011 at Namboole.

We basically did everything else but failed to accomplish the only thing that mattered! That is what pressure or the inability to handle it does to you. It paralyses you and Uganda must be on hand to strike should paralysis set in for Burkina Faso.
Question is can we punish them? Yes, I think so. For starters, we have momentum. We have won two on the trot one of which was away to Comoros. Now before that is dismissed as a routine victory over minnows, let us appreciate that for one, the eternal curse of our qualification campaigns has always been our away form. Also, it is upon such confidence boosters that campaigns are successfully negotiated.
Lest we forget, we also retain the advantage of playing the second leg at home. While there are no guarantees like Togo demonstrated in 2014, Namboole always counts for something, regardless of who the opponent is.

There are some barriers of course like the punishing itinerary our players have to endure, but we just have to figure out how to work within our realities.
As for Fufa, even if they had precedence, they must have known that the benevolence of government could not be counted upon in the aftermath of an election.
I would, therefore, be very disappointed if they had no contingency plans of how to handle the physical burden that the poor travel arrangements will bring to bear on our boys.

Rare scenario
In any case, this is what I read into our current standing. Never before have we been in such a position of command with six points after two games. Never before have we been presented with the opportunity to face-off with our biggest challenger just before completing our schedule with opponents way below our station. Never before have I seen us with a squad that combines just the right amount of youth exuberance and experience.
I trust us to make all of that count regardless of our typical hurdles. So let us work our fingers to the bone. Go get them boys!

MEMORIES
Many of us will still bear the psychological scars of what was a comparatively winnable game against Kenya in 2011 at Namboole. We basically did everything else but failed to accomplish the only thing that mattered! That is what pressure or the inability to handle it does to you. It paralyses you and Uganda must be on hand to strike should paralysis set in for Burkina Faso. Question is can we punish them? Yes, I think so. For starters, we have momentum. We have won two on the trot one of which was away to Comoros. And it was not just a mere routine victory over minnows.

banturakim@gmail.com

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