Tycoon promises a more significant offer for team in Ghana
IMPRESSED by Saturday's second half recovery against Niger that will live long in his memory, sports philanthropist Michael Ezra will give Uganda Cranes $100,000 (Shs178m).
Ezra, who trendily cheered Uganda on the Namboole tartan after arriving by helicopter, exclusively revealed to Daily Monitor that the mathematics engulfing Uganda's qualification is secondary and senseless.
"For me, the maths does not make any sense. It is a bribery thing (results from Uganda's qualification rivals) prevailing and it should not cloud a brilliant performance from Cranes. I do not want to deny the boys anything," said Ezra.
"I was extremely impressed with how the boys played and recovered after conceding. As I speak, it does not matter whether they qualified or not," he explained, adding that the money will be handed over later this month.
FANTASTIC JOB: Ezra (right) thanks Obua for his hat trick after the 3-1 defeat of Niger over the weekend. Photo by Eddie Chicco
"If we qualify, then we were meant to be. If we don't, may be God has a better gift for us ahead. In short, the boys will get their money."
Last month, the tycoon offered Cranes $100,000 if the team qualified before promising to halve the reward if Cranes failed to reach Africa's most prestigious soccer tournament.
At the time, the fluctuating dollar rate made Ezra's offer Shs171.2m. The players and coaches will hope the rate appreciates beyond the current Shs178m when they receive the money.
Thanks to GambiaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s shock 2-1 defeat of Algeria, Uganda will qualify for a first Nations Cup in 30 years if Sierra Leone holds or defeats Benin in Freetown on October 14.
Qualification can also be guaranteed if Togo and Mali play out a stalemate in Lome.
Ezra has liked the strides made by the team and the Federation.
"Previously, we have looked disorganized and it made me disinterested. But today, we have a serious coach and determined players. These are two important factors that even money can't buy. It's a blessing that we have young players who fight for the team and not the individual," he further stressed.
"We have a coach who doesn't speak English but has taken us this far. Obua (David) may have scored all three goals but without his teammates, he would not have managed."
Ezra, who pledged a "much more offer significant than this" at the Nations Cup that will be increasing with each round the team negotiates, intends to be with the national team for sometime. "This is the beginning of continental football and it should be treated as such. If we had had such offers from the word go, the team would be in Ghana now."
"I spoke of $50,000 before the match but after attending it, it can no longer be just $50,000. I have not seen players united to this level, we even had a good opportunity for a 6-1 triumph."
"For me to cling onto the fact that they would get the money only if they qualified would give a wrong impression. And Ezra does not operate like that. In fact, I'm now looking at the future."
He thanked President Yoweri Museveni's leadership. "Some of these things would not be possible if it was not for the atmosphere provided by the President of Uganda. Let us not forget that as we enjoy, as we bash him, the right mood on Saturday could have been a lot different."
His offer is the biggest in the history of Ugandan football and will bulge the pockets of the players who on Sunday received Shs40m from the Federation.