The good, bad and ugly as Cranes soared over blunt Flames

Tuesday November 19 2019

Loyal fans. A fan who calls himself ‘Omulogo wa

Loyal fans. A fan who calls himself ‘Omulogo wa Cranes’ being interviewed after the game at Namboole. PHOTO BY GEORGE KATONGOLE 

By George Katongole

Emmanuel Okwi and Fahad Bayo scored in either half as Uganda Cranes comprehensively beat Malawi Flames 2-0 at Namboole Stadium on Sunday, which left fans with countless memories to take home.

It also left us with a tough task, picking the best things we saw throughout the unforgettable evening as Uganda made a big statement for the 2021 Afcon in Cameroon, which would be their third in a row. Of course there have been some ugly scenes too. Here is what we saw and loved the most from the fans and from the team itself, the Cranes.

Clean sheets
The clean sheets just keep coming. In the previous campaign, Denis Onyango conceded only thrice, in the final qualifying game against Tanzania. After announcing his retirement and then silent return, Onyango has kept two clean sheets in two matches. The Cranes opened with a goalless draw in Ouagadougou which they followed with a 2-0 victory at Namboole. “When you keep a clean sheet you are closer to the victory, at least you have a draw,” Onyango stated about his joy.

New ‘fans’
Jackson Ssewanyana popularly known as Uncle Money, a renowned Uganda Cranes cheerleader made a silent return to Namboole after some time at Luzira Prison on charges of manslaughter. The matchday organisation did not allow undesignated persons on the turf which greatly limited Uncle Money and his crew. But several fan groups are holding forte and building momentum. Sunday showed that the Cranes belong to everyone, sponsored or not.

State of the pitch
Namboole Stadium was left to recover from the Masaza Cup finals that left it unplayable yet it was another problem of its own. Coach Jonathan McKinstry questioned the state of the pitch saying the eastern part was unplayable and troubled either side that used it. The pitch appeared green but that was not the best McKinstry could expect.

Half empty stadium
The world cannot seem to get over how empty the venue was for a resounding first home win for Jonathan McKinstry. Following less campaigns to advertise the game, the Cranes received a fairly mild crowd.

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The 45,000-seater stadium was surprisingly empty. The empty seats in most of the sections prompted some people to question where the devoted Cranes fans were on Sunday. Some fans believe this was a reflection of the ‘weak’ group Uganda got into, while some believe it means nothing.

“Real fans never reject their team,” said one fan who had painted himself as ‘Jjajja wa Cranes’.

Clock goes off
For more than six minutes in the first half, the stadium board at Namboole showed it is an older relic of what it was meant to be. The men in the technical department at Namboole always had trouble with their Dell Computer which also went off at the beginning of the second half.

Match announcer
When will Uganda ever get Patrick Luwandagga’s replacement. Three years ago, the veteran commentator and stadium announcer passed on. Yet no one is fitting in his shoes yet. First it was Clive Kyazze, who did a fairly commendable job before he got into trouble with some Fufa officials and was fired.

Now there is Bosco Omario who rarely gets the crowd to notice his presence. Sunday was just another day to show the big job Fufa has to do to find Luwandagga’s replacement.

No guest of honour?
While Moses Magogo is about to return to his seat as Fufa boss after a brief dismissal by Fifa, it was obvious he is being missed. Prior to kick-off, both teams walked onto the pitch to do the routine inspection. But what raised eyebrows was that there were no VIPs to grace the red carpet.

gkatongole@ug.nationmedia.com

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