Hockey: Uganda embrace chance to change history

Chasing new goals. Alfred Agaba (left) and Richard Ssemwogerere go through their paces in Accra on January 16, 2022. PHOTO/MAKHTUM MUZIRANSA

What you need to know:

  • Men’s coach Vincent Kasasa is inspired, if not obsessed, with his triumph against Kenya at the (International Hockey Federation) Bi-Nation Series in Nairobi last year. 

Today, Uganda returns to continental hockey for the first time in 14 years. This time, it is even a level higher as the men’s team, which was last assembled for a continental tournament in 2007 for the Olympic qualifiers in Nairobi, returns to the Africa Cup of Nations – for the first time since 2000.

At that time in 2000, current Uganda Hockey Association (UHA) president Phillip Wafula was a player on the team but has since watched generations of players miss such opportunities due to the body’s financial constraints.

Today, he will be in the stands as Uganda takes on the hosts Ghana hoping the current crop of players heed to the call of National Council of Sports general secretary Bernard Patrick Ogwel “to change the story of the sport forever.”

“The men have not been regulars while the women’s first qualification gives them a legacy to move forward, so I want you (players) to use this opportunity properly,” Ogwel urged during the team’s flag-off last Friday in Lugogo.

“We’re struggling with many things but your success will motivate everybody to fully invest and support you to remain at continental level,” he added.

His words will definitely be repeated in every pre-match team talk here in Accra, where Uganda comes as an unknown quantity in both the men’s Pool A and women’s Pool B.

Men’s coach Vincent Kasasa is inspired, if not obsessed, with his triumph against Kenya at the (International Hockey Federation) Bi-Nation Series in Nairobi last year. 

He has constantly used those results to inspire his team of what is possible as Kenyan teams have always exchanged podium finishes – behind South Africa and Egypt – with Ghana since 2007.

Early push back
Meanwhile, the women under coach Moses Nsereko, must beat the sun up to play Namibia at 7am (Ghanaian time), which should be no concern as the players arose early yesterday. 

Nsereko, for the first two days of this tournament, will hope that the bodies keep operating on Ugandan time, which is three hours ahead of Accra.

Uganda and Namibia were on the same flight from Addis Ababa to Accra on Saturday and the lack of acknowledgement from either side should translate into an interesting rivalry on pitch.

By press time, however, Uganda had not yet had a feel of the water-based astro-turf at the Theodosia Okoh Stadium as a delay at Kotoka International Airport ate into their allocated training time on Saturday.

Hockey Africa Cup finals - January 17
W:     Namibia     vs.     Uganda    10am
M:     Ghana     vs.     Uganda    7pm

Men’s probable XI 

Bosco Ochan (GK); Brian Okodi, Solomon Mutalya, Jordan Mpiima; Ashraf Tumwesigye, Timothy Ntumba; Colline Batusa, Stuart Kavuma; Brian Bayule, Maxwell Mugisha, Emmanuel Baguma 

Women’s probable XI 

Sylvia Giramia (GK); Consolate Muber, Lamula Nakajjumba, Winnie Alaro; Margaret Nassiwa, Asiimwe Doreen, Norah Alum; Lucky Akello, Joy Serunjogi, Teopista Anyango; Doreen Mbabazi

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