CAIRO. Uganda and Egypt have travelled some journeys in the last three years, being drawn together in the 2018 Russia World Cup qualifiers, Gabon 2017 and Egypt 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals.
In all this, the Pharaohs have - in some way or another – always managed to go an extra mile, despite Cranes pushing them.
Now as we get into the business end of the tournament in Egypt, the Cranes are also now looking to last as much the distance as they can fashion this time round.
“For us now it’s about staying focused,” Cranes vice-captain Hassan Wasswa told Daily Monitor, “When you get to the knockout stage you know anything is possible.”
Going into their own final group clash between Egypt and Uganda last night, a third placed team in pools C, D, or E, or runners up in C (Senegal or Kenya), provided potential opponents the next stage.
“We are focusing on one game at a time. And if we continue doing that, we know we can go further.
“The target was to get out of the group. But we want to stay here for as long as possible.”
And how about the hosts and Uganda’s groupmates, Egypt? Well, the Pharaohs’ options seem to be limited.
You have to be at the 75,000 seater capacity stadium during their games, or walk through the streets or speak to any local to understand the weight of expectation Egypt have.
Pressure is on
Having lost the final to Cameroon two years ago in Gabon, coach Aguirre’s men will only be judged on lifting the title for the eighth time. Besides, the last time they hosted it they won it in 2006.
“We all know it’s on our soil, everyone knows, and the pressure is big,” admitted Egypt captain Ahmed Elmohamady.
“Our fans should know we are doing our best. God willing we will be the winners. We know our fans are supporting us and we are doing our best.”
Elmohamady’s coach was a bit guarded. “We all know that football is a strange game,” said the Mexican.
“Sometimes you play bad and win, sometimes you play well and lose so I cannot tell you for sure. Football has no stable percentages. We just have to continue improving and hopefully we win it.”