• Uganda ‘mourns’ on Independence Day

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Oct 09, 2011-

Ugandans woke up on Sunday from the nightmare of their national football team’s failure to reach the Africa Cup of Nations.

Just like the night before, the streets of a rainy Kampala were eerily empty as most people opted to stay indoors while coming to terms with their bitter disappointment.

Sunday newspapers captured the mood of a nation in mourning on a day it should be celebrating its 49th Independence anniversary.

‘Cranes still a long way from Uhuru’, The Sunday Monitor’s headline read. Below it, a perfect picture of devastation and despair; an utterly crest fallen Cranes left back Nestroy Kizito (no relation to the writer) crouched with his face on his left palm.

OH NO! screamed The Sunday Vision’s sports’ page back headline. The somber picture painted by these dailies was in sharp contrast to the stories that had been published the previous day rallying the Cranes not just to win, but give the Harambee Stars a sound beating.

On Saturday, New Vision writer Aldrine Nsubuga had written: ‘Ugandans feel as though they are held under a demonic spell of sorts. To them, it is had been 33 years of imprisonment. Thirty three years of bondage. If the Cranes beat Kenya today, the nation would be freed at last.’

But like in past cases where lady luck has failed to smile on them, for all their superiority and dominance Uganda Cranes failed to win the most important match for them in the last three decades. All their efforts to stage ‘prison break season 33’ came a cropper as Kenya frustrated them to a 0-0 stalemate before an expectant 45,000 capacity crowd on Saturday evening at Namboole Stadium.

One of the theories fronted to explain the team’s massive implosion was the dismissal of star striker David Obua from the Cranes camp less 24 hours to the match. The Sunday Vision termed the Hearts striker’s suspension as an act of self-destruction that ultimately caused the team big time.

But the same paper also raised serious queries over the highly gifted yet controversial player’s temperament.

On Friday Obua was kicked out of the Cranes camp apparently for snubbing president Yoweri Museveni’s visit. But in mitigation, Obua sought to clear his name from the controversy. “I still can’t understand why I was thrown out of the camp. These guys have killed the rest of the players. You don’t do this with such a big game coming up,”Obua was quoted in the New Vision.

Whichever way you look at it, just like Kenyan coach Zedekiah “Zico” Otieno later admitted Uganda Cranes only have themselves to blame, They had the chances but failed to utilize them.

All the talk of what was and what should have been is now water under the bridge. Hence, Ugandans will have to wait a little long to break their 33 year hiatus at the biennial continental football showpiece. Bobby Williamson’s men will have to pick themselves up and fight another day.

Nesta Kizito in Kampala

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