Saturday September 7 2013

Cranes have nothing to lose against Senegal in Morocco

Cranes defender Kalungi keeps his eyes on the ball against Senegal at

Cranes defender Kalungi keeps his eyes on the ball against Senegal at Namboole last year. The match ended in a 1-1 draw. Photo by Eddie Chicco 

By Moses Banturaki

I am one of those unapologetic Ugandans who only show up to cheer on the National Team and I could not even care to discuss the ‘excuses’ of my shameless behaviour.

But the thing is that even if local football and all its politics is a turn-off and even if I have grown accustomed to an extremely entertaining European football menu, I still return. Don’t I? I am like that man who having developed a taste for single-malt whiskey occasionally shows up at the dingy ‘local’ for a dose of un-distilled gin and the good old times.

Crazy yes, but that would be to under estimate the deep-rooted power of nostalgia.

So even if the Super league kicked off a few weeks ago and we seem to be ambling along in no particular direction, it is with pleasure that I await tonight’s game in Marrakesh. And this is not because I believe we shall beat Senegal or our ‘next’ opponents for that matter to qualify for Brazil 2014. It is just that as a Ugandan I quite enjoy any good run put together by The Cranes.

The truth is that we do have wind beneath our sails as generated by the morale-boosting twin victories in the qualifiers against Liberia and Angola that put us in this position in the first place.

It is also not common for The Cranes to have a couple of international friendlies lined up, a training camp in Europe before a big qualifier and a chartered plane-load of fans to cheer them on at an away game. So much good is bubbling beneath the surface right now.

And these things can positively alter the psyche of a team and bear fruit. So excuse my delight but please do understand that every fan loves it when their team is on a roll.

Besides and ultimately you must give yourself a chance to dream. And our uncharacteristically fine preparations now have us dreaming of overcoming that hurdle that always trips us at the business-end of qualification campaigns.
Nonetheless on many occasions I have witnessed how quickly a decent run can turn around and seen how our pettiness has broken down our momentum.

But I am now immunized against all such worries, and all the fear is buried beneath a skin hardened by years of under achievement. As a matter of fact I am not even as apprehensive as I would normally be before a make or break qualifying game. You see I have been here before and I know how similar in emotion our qualification campaigns are to a post-Christmas hangover.

You party hard, make resolutions and generally spend beyond your means even if you know the year ahead is a long one. You know because it always happens, year in and year out!

And I am okay with that because for now I feel we are the underdog with nothing to lose. Win and I will celebrate like any fan. Lose and I will implore all of us continue to support and encourage Macho and the boys as we build on to greater and more achievable targets like AFCON 2015 and the World Cup 2022. Sometimes that is what being a fan asks for - blind faith.