U-20 bungle leaves Fufa shamefaced

This whole U-20 muddle tells a true picture of our focus as country, or lack of it. If Fufa is going to sit and hope for miracles in the senior Cranes, they can as well go to sleep.

Thursday January 30 2014

Cranes coach Micho and his charges, including Tonny Maweje

Cranes coach Micho and his charges, including Tonny Maweje will have to play preliminary games on their way to Morocco 2015. However, the U-20 team will not take part in continental soccer next year. PHoto By ISMAIL KEZAALA  

By Andrew Mwanguhya

So a month of forgettable returns in cricket, football and hockey among others is completed by Uganda.

January also came with the news that for the first time since July 2000, Uganda will play into preliminaries of the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. This, on top of some other muddle in the U-20 national team.

Then in 2000, the Cranes had to negotiate past Malawi – home and away – before booking themselves into the group stage, from where they failed to make it to the 2002 edition in Mali.

Now coach Micho Sredojevic’s side have to do the same against a yet-to-be known opponent between May-August before they can make the group stages proper in September. It’s from the group stage that 15 teams will join next year’s Afcon hosts - Morocco.

Cranes predicament comes thanks to poor performances in two previous Afcon and 2014 World Cup qualifying campaigns. Actually, it is fair to say that had the same criterion been used by Caf over the years, Uganda would have been a fixture in preliminaries.

But that is besides the point. The point is that Cranes showed interest by registering to be compete in next year’s continental showpiece.

Yet, even after Cricket Cranes finishing 10 out of 10 in the ICC World Cup qualifiers in New Zealand - a feat that earned them a demotion into Division III, hockey clubs self-distracting at an African Club Championship hosted by Uganda, Uganda Cranes group stage dismissal in Chan and the Afcon preliminary tale; we still have some story to tell in the underage sports setting.

While Fufa registered Uganda for the 2015 Afcon and U-17 tournaments, we were conspicuously absent from the U-20 Championships.

Yet, just about every nation in Cecafa including Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Sudan, South Sudan, Sudan, Ethiopia and Tanzania have registered for all championships (U-17, 20 and Afcon 2015).

The argument from Fufa is they are stretched and do not have the budget to compete in the U-17, U-20 and Afcon 2015.

This argument might be right. Countries like Ghana and Nigeria which grace these tournaments religiously have full government support.

But it also true that their federations’ legalities are not questioned and their topflight leagues are in unison. The funny situation here has left government, whose full commitment toward sports could be questioned, playing ping pong with everyone but themselves.

The other case being fronted is Fufa chose to register participation in the U-17 because the same players would graduate into the U-20s with time.
Granted, the U-17s elsewhere graduate to the U-20s, and the latter grow into the U-23 and eventually national team.

But does this mean we currently have no U-20s? Affirmative. Otherwise we would have registered for the qualifiers.

Some pathetic argument from one of Fufa’s champions on one of the social networks went like: “The reason is our U-17, which would have been now U-20, did not play for the past four years due to Caf ban.” How now?

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