KAMPALA/ENTEBBE- Uganda Cranes bonus gloom was replaced by smiles as the team were hosted at a State dinner by President Museveni at Entebbe State House on Monday.
On top of Shs10b government released to Fufa for Cranes 2019 Nations Cup qualification and finals campaign, the President further announced another Shs3.7b ($1m) for the players and technical team to share amongst themselves.
“I’m very happy the Uganda Cranes went up to the last 16,” said Museveni, “I know we will perform better next time. I will organise $1m with the government to distribute it among the players and officials. Of course, the officials will not get as much as the players.”
The president added: “Although we didn’t win all our fixtures, we made a good effort and achieved some reasonable success. I don’t know how Senegal got that goal. I see our players are all fit young people. All they need is more stamina. I thank the team once again.”
Uganda beat DRC 2-0, drew with Zimbabwe 1-1 and lost to Egypt 2-0 in their group matches to progress to the knockout stage second behind the Pharaohs. Patrick Kaddu and Emmanuel Okwi (two goals) scored the Cranes three strikes, while Denis Onyango saved Sadio Mane’s penalty despite the Senegalese still scoring from open play as Uganda lost their last 16 match 1-0.
Museveni admitted that government has not done enough in supporting sports because they looked at “priority areas like construction of roads first.” He cautioned the players and members of the association (Fufa) on discipline and partisan politics in sports saying that “it is through sports that Ugandans are united. Whoever brings partisan politics in a sport is an idiot,” he said.
State Minister for sports Charles Bakkabulindi and Fufa president Moses Magogo said the rise in Cranes performances is partly due to recent government funding.
Notably absent at the State Dinner was Sebastien Desabre, now former Cranes coach who was unveiled as new boss at Egyptian side Pyramids FC the same day.
That national team coach question, following the Frenchman’s moving on, is what Fufa will be grappling with in the next few weeks or months.
Yet it is not the only one. The Cranes and Fufa now have to pick themselves up quickly with Chan 2020 qualification starting in a fortnight with a visit to Somalia. Chan is a home-based players’ tournament, meaning Uganda can once again show more of the talent that was not on show in Egypt. Uganda are also hosting this year’s Cecafa in December, with Afcon 2021 Cameroon qualifying draws to be held on July 18 in Cairo, a day before the 2019 final is played.