The 2018 African Nations Championship (Chan) in Morocco was supposed to be Uganda’s to finally end the curse.
Sebastien Desabre had just taken over as Cranes coach, replacing Micho Sredojevic, just weeks before.
So he was always going to be heavily reliant on his local assistants to understand and appreciate his players and their game. Actually, his was more of supervisory role although he appeared on the touchline.
Qualifying for the finals was customary, Uganda dispatching Sudan, with Paul Mucureezi plundering four goals in the home tie at Lugogo.
It is the build-up to the event that was uninspiring. A 1-1 draw with Guinea and 1-0 defeat to Congo en route to Morocco left Cranes banking more on hope than confidence. Zambia, debutants Namibia and Ivory Coast stood in Uganda’s way to progressing from the group for the first time in four attempts.
Uganda had played a combined 11 games at the finals heading into the Morocco edition. But of those they registered only one victory, achieved at the South Africa 2014 edition when they beat Burkina Faso 2-1 thanks to a Yunus Ssentamu brace.
Chance for redemption
Now here was a chance for them to uplift the record, with Zambia first up in Marrakech.
But Lazarous Kambole, Augustine Mulenga and Fackson Kapumbu scored for the Chipolopolo to expound Cranes Chan woes in the 3-1 opening defeat.
Derrick Nsibambi’s got the Cranes consolation with a spectacular volley; but that was just about it for Uganda’s highlights.
Now bottom of Group B with a minus-2 goal difference, the Cranes had to get a result against Namibia, who beat Ivory Coast 1-0 in their opener, to go into their final match with the Ivorians with something still to play for.
But a 1-0 defeat to the Namibians ensured the final clash with Ivory Coast was just a formality.
The Cranes now have another chance to have a go at the challenge, with this year’s edition kicking off tomorrow in Cameroon. Uganda, however, do not play until their opener on Monday.
Cranes’ squad at Chan 2018
Goalkeepers: Ismail Watenga, Benjamin Ochan
Defenders: Nicholas Wadada, Isaac Muleme, Timothy Awany, Bernard Muwanga, Mustapha Mujuzi, Seif Batte
Midfielders: Taddeo Lwanga, Milton Karisa, Muzamir Mutyaba, Ibrahim Sadam Juma, Moses Waiswa
Forwards: Allan Kyambadde, Paul Mucureezi, Derrick Nsibambi, Nelson Senkatuka, Muhammad Shaban
Coach: Sébastien Desabre