Saturday May 17 2014

Uganda Cranes can only qualify after satisfactory preparations

National team players engaging in an afternoon practice session at the

National team players engaging in an afternoon practice session at the artificial turf in Njeru on Wednesday. The team are odds-on favourites to eliminate Madagascar over two legs. Photo by Ismail Kezaala 

By Moses Banturaki

Tomorrow afternoon we are away to Madagascar in our first game of the 2015 AFCON qualifiers. We will probably beat them over the two legs because one, they aren’t a shining example of football might and two, we always start strongly and only fall away towards the business end of the qualifiers.

Even if we are quick to attribute this to ill-luck, it is actually ill-preparation that eventually undresses us. And this general lack of preparation will expose us even this time round and in case you doubt me take a look at this.

We have since December known that the format of AFCON 2015 was going to be different and that we were going to play a few more irritating games. So you wouldn’t expect Fufa to be still grappling with the basics of team selection, training grounds, venues for the return leg, debt and other logistical matters involved in foreign travel and hosting of return legs.

Ever since we put together our team of ‘usual suspects’ and free agents a fortnight ago, we seem to be lurching from one administrative crisis to another.

As a result we are now shocked that some of our players are from leagues that are still playing or have picked injuries or are generally unfit. In other words we have been caught unawares by an event we knew about a few months in advance.

You can expect this as well. We shall board at Entebbe, make the switch in Nairobi and do the hour hop over the Indian Ocean arriving with a day to spare.

Then with virtually no time to acclimatize, the coastal weather and its near 100% humidity will dehydrate us. And with no food and chef, the fishy diets will put off men who have been bred on Posho and beans.
And you wonder if anyone at Mengo appreciates that the business of winning football games is a matter of good preparations. Maybe they are lulled into a sense of false comfort by CAF rules that state the responsibilities of hosts. Well in reality our hosts don’t owe us a thing and we can’t claim not to have various past examples of that.

The argument for this meagerness is always cost effectiveness but this ill-preparation is only effective to the extent that it eventually costs us qualification. And when we fail as is often the case we attribute it to misfortune.

Well Fufa had better take responsibility for our ‘ill fortune’ as well. We cannot afford to have leaders who only bask in the glory of our limited wind-falls and pass on the buck as soon as the clouds gather.

So instead of citing fate and saboteurs, Fufa should ensure that we maintain our chances of qualification beyond the early games by setting up a permanent selection committee that watches over all potential playing staff and a permanent event planning team that takes care of the basics of travelling and hosting.

Then the business of qualification will cease to be a matter of good or ill luck. And seeing that Fufa has very little going for it they might as well invest their energies in the national team because it has been their leading image-sanitizer for the last decade or so.

Cranes afcon facts
*It is 36 years since Uganda qualified for the tournament

*The 2015 tournament will be played in Morocco

*Uganda have two away qualification wins in 14 years

*Should Uganda beat Madagascar, it will advance to face Equatorial Guinea or Mauritania

*This will be Micho’s first campaign. He was appointed last year midway through the World Cup qualifiers