Junior kabaddi team suffer early elimination

The sport of Kabaddi is very physical. PHOTO/INTERNET 

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The junior Gladiators crashed out of the championship after losing both their group games.

Just over 22 hours on the road, including three waiting hours for a connection in Dubai and four weeks of hard training in the baking sun, just 100 minutes defined Uganda’s fate in the ongoing second Junior World Kabaddi Championship in Urmia, Iran.

The junior Gladiators crashed out of the championship after losing both their group games.

Group stage games were played in a round-robin format with the top two teams in each group qualifying for the knockouts.

 Although they were very close in the opening game which they lost 42-40 to Chinese Taipei, it would be a tall order against hosts Iran.

Trailing 10-1 inside the opening 15 minutes, Uganda was destined for a long night against the world champions. The junior Gladiators were trailing 27-14 at halftime.

Kabaddi is a do-or-dare game. You invade the territory of seven men with an objective of tapping anyone or cross their bonus line and run as fast as possible to the midline before the opponents or time catches you or else, your team loses their man.

Uganda dared but in 20 minutes, they were twice all out.

There was a gleeful moment at the beginning of the second half as Uganda were at one point nine points behind Iran but kept losing their men and when the final whistle blew, a 67-28 defeat meant that Uganda were out of contention.

The experience of Shafic Katamba and Douglas Mulalira did not count especially against Iran as the swift Iranians were agile, swift and strong.

Edgar Mujuni is however hopeful that the exposure that comes with the World Cup appearance will count towards the growth of the sport in Uganda.

“There are many opportunities for an appearance at the World Cup. Our boys showed potential and I hope it is enough to convince some scouts here that they can play at the Pro Kabaddi League in India, which is one of the most paying leagues in the world,” Mujuni said.

Neighbours Kenya, the other African nation at the championship, who actually played in the 2019 final, played in the quarterfinals. The junior Gladiators will return after the finals on Saturday.