Why poor road record leaves The Cranes with egg on face
Posted Sunday, June 1 2014 at 01:00
Cranes have always done the business at home and gone on to pull up short whenever the task in on the road.
By the time of writing this piece, yours truly didn’t know the result from yesterday’s 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) pre-qualifier return leg match that pitted Madagascar against Uganda at Mandela National Stadium in Namboole.
Whether The Cranes qualified or not, you’ve got to say that they should be burying their head in shame. Failure to make themselves formidable on the road means that the long wait to end an Afcon drought that stretches back to 1978 could continue. The significance of winning on the road cannot be understated.
Those that have made it a habit to lord it over their hosts in Afcon qualification campaigns have reaped big.
Lamentably, with just two away victories to its name since the turn of the 21st century, Uganda hasn’t staked claim to being a road warrior. Before the Afcon 2015 qualification campaign started, this column opined that playing away to Madagascar offered a window of opportunity.
Although there is no such thing as an easy opponent, your columnist thought that Madagascar wasn’t a country of such a high standing to make Cranes players quiver in their boots.
I thought that if The Cranes went to Madagascar with a positive attitude and imposed themselves, they would get a much-needed win. That win, I suggested then, would fortify The Cranes’ 2015 Afcon qualification campaign. The Cranes instead ended up being mortified after losing 2-1 to their lowly opponents. It could have been worse were it not for a dreadful penalty miss by the Malagasy.
As it is - again regardless of yesterday’s result - The Cranes have failed to shake the monkey off the back. A win at the Stade Rabemananjara in the island county of Madagascar would have infused The Cranes with the right kind of belief - the one that they can do the business away from the comfort zone that is Mandela National Stadium.
Instead, if, as widely expected, The Cranes managed to wipe out the first leg deficit yesterday, they will go into the 2015 Afcon qualification campaign with that familiar mindset that home form can carry them on eagles’ wings.
Well, guess what, it hasn’t.
The Cranes have always done the business at home and gone on to pull up short.
You sure don’t need to be a specialist in rocketry to know that The Cranes have to step out of their comfort zone to shatter their 36-year-old Afcon duck.
If they managed to make it to the second 2015 Afcon pre-qualifying round, they need to start devising a plan on how to make winning away from fortress Namboole become a usual occurrence.
The Cranes need to stop being pigeonholed as poor travellers. Anything short of that will be fatal.
UGANDA’S RECENT AWAY RECORD
2014 World Cup Qualifiers
- Angola 1-1 Uganda
-Liberia 2-0 Uganda
-Senegal 1-0 Uganda
2013 Afcon Qualifiers
-Zambia 1-0 Uganda
-Congo Brazzaville 3-1 Uganda
2012 Afcon Qualifiers
-Angola 2-0 Uganda
-Kenya 0-0 Uganda
-Guinea Bissau 0-1 Uganda
2010 World Cup/Afcon Qualifiers
-Angola 0-0 Uganda
-Benin 4-1 Uganda
-Niger 3-1 Uganda
2008 Afcon Qualifiers
-Niger 0-0 Uganda
- Nigeria 1-0 Uganda
-Lesotho 0-0 Uganda
Uganda’s dark rugby cloud and its sliver of silver lining
Uganda’s report card in this year’s Bamburi Rugby Super Series superficially makes for grim reading. What with the Ugandan franchise sides’ (Hima Rwenzori and Protector Victoria) winless streak in the annual tournament that also involves Kenyan outfits!
That streak has put paid Uganda’s interest in the tournament well before the knockout stages take centre-stage.
A hideous opening round in which both Rwenzori and Victoria slumped to tame defeats on home soil at Kyadondo Rugby Football Club (KYRFC) set the tone for what would - in the book of Ugandan rugby faithful - be a mediocre tournament.