By their own standards, Uganda will argue they put up greater effort than their last appearance at the African Nations Championship (Chan).
Granted the Cranes won one game, drew another and lost the final group encounter, a marked improvement from their 2011 debut in Sudan, where – then coached by Bobby Williamson – Uganda lost all three group games scoring just once. In South Africa, striker Yunus Sentamu scored Uganda’s three goals.
But while the Cranes showed some improvement, they still belonged to the class of mediocrity on the big stage, patchiness that springs back from lack of youth structures back home to teach basics like off the ball movements; basics that can only be taught at a younger age.
And with governance questions of the game still unresolved, infighting within the federation and two contested leagues; you can only reap what you sow.
The Cranes eventually bowed out of the exclusively home-based players’ tournament having topped Group B with four points up to the last day of pool games.
Coach Micho Sredojevic’s outfit were ejected 3-1 by Morocco and Zimbabwe’s 1-0 win over Burkina Faso coupled to relegate Cranes to third place and on a plane back to Uganda.
“We played a very experienced side and that was very evident on the pitch with their kind of movement and skill,” said Micho during a press briefing after the match.
Seven of Morocco players on show against Uganda reached the final of the World Club Championship with Raja Casablanca in Marrakech. They lost that final to European champions Bayern Munich.
But for finishing third in a group eventually led by Morocco on five points and followed by Zimbabwe on the same points, Fufa are guaranteed Shs312m ($125,000) from Caf, the continental soccer governors.
However, Uganda held on for a point after Sentamu’s equaliser, the Cranes would have been good value for Shs125m more as Shs437m ($175,000) was at stake for making the quarterfinals.
This money, like the previous edition in Sudan, is disbursed to respective federations after harmonizing their books sometime after the tournament.