CAIRO- One random Facebook account summarized Sunday’s Nile Derby at the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in one post: ‘Uganda Cranes created all chances and Egypt scored the goals.’
And literally true, nearly all in the Cairo International Stadium and eyes on television across the continent agreed Uganda should have picked something but only to finish empty-handed in the 2-0 loss to the Pharaohs.
By mere sight, few or no Cranes player felt the pain of the defeat considering they kept iconic Mohamed Salah quiet bar his free-kick and missed a series of opportunities. Yet, also, DR Congo had put four past Zimbabwe ease mathematics for their eastern neighbours in Group A.
“We played good football,” admitted Abdu Lumala.
“We surprised many,” stated the winger whose pace often thrived in the pockets of space around Egypt’s wing-backs Ayman Ashraf and captain Ahmed El Mohamady.
Despite playing only five matches for Cranes, the Swedish-based midfielder has turned out to be top of the fans’ darlings back home because of his industry which, honestly, is rare in Uganda’s offense in recent times.
“The team is helping me to become a much better player. With everything we do, we do it as a team,” Lumala told Daily Monitor in the mixed zone after the Egypt encounter.
He has earned the trust from coach Sebastien Desabre and little wonder he is one of the lucky eight to have started all three matches in Egypt.
“We have a good coach. He (Desabre) keeps on pushing me and I turn out better as a player. And I do whatever I can to improve every day and in every game.”
Lumala played 81 minutes before paving way for Isaac Muleme against DR Congo but completed 90 minutes in the ensuing matches against Zimbabwe and Egypt.
With the Cranes out of the group for the first time in 41 years, there is more expected from the man with outstanding gold-tinted hair.
“We just have to keep going, we have to push each other as we’ve played.
“No one thought that we could go through the group stages but we showed our abilities.
“We showed what we are made of as Uganda. Our fans should keep behind us even if they are back home. They need to just keep positive not negative,” he added.