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Chan: Ego battles could haunt Cranes

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Cranes midfielders Brian Majwega and Saidi Kyeyune

Cranes midfielders Brian Majwega and Saidi Kyeyune ponder against Tanzania 

By Moses Banturaki

Posted  Saturday, January 11  2014 at  02:00

In Summary

With 2014 just four days old, Ugandan sport has an opportunity on its hands to reflect on the last year and right the wrongs to make a better season

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The third edition of Chan, a tournament exclusively designed for footballers based in their domestic leagues, opens in Cape Town today when hosts South Africa and their neighbors and also economic colony Mozambique take to the pitch in an unlikely local derby.

The tournament now in its third edition appears to be gaining popularity and sustaining a steady momentum and as it should be, is being taken seriously. For instance DR Congo winners of the first edition in 2009 touched down in Cape Town on December 29, last year! A number of other nations have made their way down south via numerous training camps in the neighborhood. This isn’t the kind of preparation undertaken for a tournament of no value.
Of course it helps that the funding is decent. The winner stands to pocket $750,000 (Shs1.9b) but most importantly all teams present, win or lose, are guaranteed $100,000 (Shs250) in appearance money. That is tremendous motivation not only because there can only be one winner but also because if allotted properly this amount of money can go a long way in improving the condition of players plying their trade in domestic leagues.

Our very own, The Cranes will take to the pitch tomorrow night against Burkina Faso a nation of 6 footers and a growing repute in African football. We may not have undergone the intense preparation of DR Congo but gone are the days when the national team could be said to be ill funded.

We may not possess the means of continental giants Morocco Nigeria or South Africa but vicious corporate sponsorship now headed by Airtel at least ensures that the basic minimums are all in place. We may have arrived in Cape Town with hardly enough time left to acclimatize and via torturing connections but we would have got there without the kind of misfortunes of the years gone by when sleeping in airport lounges and empty stomachs and pockets were the rule rather than the exception.

So relatively speaking we are as well prepared as just about anyone arriving for the tournament and one can be excused for dreaming about the top prize of almost Shs2b until you consider that our domestic footballers haven’t been involved in a competitive league at all. For a larger part of the last two years none of the 24 players making the Chan contingent can claim to have pursued a meaningful footballing cause as a senseless battle of egos raged on.

As it is The Cranes going to Chan has access to almost everything but competitive football. It is this folly then that will be responsible for our failings. And not even the controversial inclusion of the charismatic and talented Hassan Wasswa will paper over the cracks. Yes he aided qualification but regardless of how noble the objectives are, what kind of message do you send out by embracing a returning ‘professional’ on the eve of the tournament meant for domestic players?

It is all a consequence of politically induced administrative paralysis and is symptomatic of our continued love for short-cuts. And that is what killed local football competition in the first place and will be entirely responsible for our failings in Cape Town.

A DIRE LACK OF FOOTBALL

As it is The Cranes going to CHAN has access to almost everything but competitive football. It is this folly then that will be responsible for our failings. And not even the controversial inclusion of the charismatic and talented Hassan Wasswa will paper over the cracks. Yes he aided our qualification but regardless of how noble the objectives are, what kind of message do you send out by embracing a returning ‘professional’ on the eve of the tournament meant for domestic players?

banturakim@gmail.com