KAMPALA. In the end, the long await Total 2019 Africa Cup of Nations draw left Ugandans with lots to ponder ahead of the main tournament that kicks off June 21 in Egypt. Held at the iconic Giza Pyramids on Friday night, Uganda Cranes were drawn against hosts Egypt, two-time winners DR Congo and Zimbabwe in Group A of the first-ever 24-team showpiece.\
Social media networks Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp were awash with divided opinion, much of it bent on Cranes having slim chances of progression in comparison to their opponents. When Senegalese legend El Hadji Diouf picked out Uganda’s ball first from Pot 3, it meant the Cranes took up position A3 in Group A, implying Egypt and Zimbabwe would be the teams to face. Television cameras at Giza showed Cranes’ coach Desabre Sebastien appearing to have a good feel in company of Fufa officials.
But when the group filled up with 1968 and 1974 champions DR Congo, then Cranes’ mathematics suddenly intensified.
Uganda will meet record seven-time champions Egypt for the fifth time at Afcon finals, with the Pharaohs edging the previous meetings in 1962, 1974, 1976 and 2017 by a goal.
Even when Uganda returned to Afcon for the first time in 39 years two years ago, Abdallah El Said broke the Cranes’ hearts in Group D when he fired low past Denis Onyango in the 89th minute for the winner on January 21, 2017 in Port-Gentil, Gabon.
That seemed to catapult Egypt who went up to the final while Uganda bowed out with just a point and a goal at Mali.
The two teams will now face-off again in the last Group A match on June 30 at the Cairo International Stadium as Egypt bids to become the first host to win the title since they did it in 2006.
This is also the same venue where both teams met and Egypt won 2-1 on March 1, 1974, Uganda’s consolation coming from Stanley ‘Tanka’ Mubiru. Coach Desabre Sebastien’s charges begin the tournament against neighbours DR Congo on June 22, the first meeting between the two in a continental showpiece.