Review: Harsh year on reputations nears end

Wednesday December 27 2017

Not long is left before 2017 runs its course. It has been a year that was astonishingly harsh on reputations. The reaction was almost uniformly of disbelief when sporting gods many regarded fearsomely built to enforce were instead reduced to their basest level and desecrated.

Usain Bolt’s toe-curling travails at the IAAF World Athletics Championships swiftly spring to mind.
For a superstar athlete who has had a very deep appreciation of the subject of success, the travails sure stuck out like a statistical rounding error.

If it is any consolation, the legendary Jamaican wasn’t the only big name to unsuccessfully stake a pressing claim to relevance in the season.
Your columnist covered the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals, staying in the same hotel with eventual winners, Cameroon.
Going into the tournament, no-one paid the Indomitable Lions the slightest attention seeing as they were a few notches beyond pedestrian.

As those whom the odds heavily favoured went into some kind of existential panic, Cameroon homed in on success - winning the title after a 2-1 victory over Egypt in the final.
If any evidence was needed to prove that Cameroon’s fairy-tale relied not on external trappings but intrinsic strengths, African football governing body Caf duly provided it this past week.

Caf Player of the Year shortlist
None of Cameroon’s Afcon winners emerged from a thinned out field for the Caf Player of the Year gong due to be handed out in January. Mo Salah, a losing finalist, is instead the runaway favourite.
Salah of course secured Egypt its first ticket to the Fifa World Cup finals since 1990.

This was at the expense of a Ugandan outfit that run the Pharaohs close but not too close enough.
Part of the reason why Uganda pulled up short was because of Farouk Miya’s bewildering loss of form.
After scoring Uganda’s only goal at the 2017 Afcon finals, Miya switched off to the point that his legions of admirers were so grotesquely dismissive of him.

Much like Bolt, this Ugandan football heavyweight didn’t find the going plain sailing in 2017.
Elsewhere, Paidha Black Angels’ stunning defeat of Vipers SC in the Uganda Cup business end added yet another David versus Goliath layer to 2017. The result also virtually paved the way for KCCA FC to do something it had hitherto never done in its 54-year history -- win a league and cup double.

It was that sort of year! There was an underdog subject line even in the success of traditional titans.
Think the upstart coach Emma Kiguyi calling the shots as UCU Lady Canons swept acrimonious rivals KCCA Leopards.

Happy New Year