In two months’ time, The Cranes will line up against DR Congo in their opening game of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).
At the moment, the topical issue on people’s minds is whether Uganda has what it takes to qualify from a group that also has Zimbabwe and host nation Egypt.
I’m one of those who give our Cranes team every chance to go all the way up to the quarters but it is increasingly becoming unfortunate that the powers that be at Fufa house may have other ideas.
At the moment, there should be some sort of hype surrounding the team in its quest to make a mark at the tournament. The push for places on the final 23-man squad should be top on the agenda; sponsors should be clamouring to associate with The Cranes and more importantly, the nation should have a clear roadmap to Egypt 2019.
Instead, we are stuck with a dull build-up that will only make headlines with Fufa pleads for government help to foot the bill for the team.
We have been here before in 2017 when Fufa played the same cards on the National Council for Sports (NCS), parliament and State House. In the end, The Cranes will be eliminated and the pattern of excuses, as usual, will be bad luck, poor weather, lack of funds and bad timing.
For a federation that knew about qualification six months ago, it is despicable that it is silent at a time it needs to make the most of the qualification.
The Kenyan football association is already booked an international friendly with France before the tournament. In Tanzania, companies are scrambling to sponsor the team while in Burundi, they have secured kit sponsorship from Nike. Uganda?
We are busy promoting a tournament called Drum. It cannot get any worse. Right now, Fufa should be entertaining bids to design a new Afcon jersey for The Cranes to reflect our cultural heritage. The Afcon jersey should be out as part of public engagement.
Fufa should also be partnering sponsors for promotions where fans would win tickets to watch The Cranes in Egypt. At worst, a committee would already be set up to coordinate fans who may wish to travel for the continental showpiece.
Unfortunately, the people in charge are still stuck in a taxi mentality. Right now, Fufa should be using Cranes legends to traverse various platforms doing hype work.
Amidst all this, it is not that Fufa officials don’t know what needs to be done; it’s just that there are some greedy individuals who love to turn every situation into a money-making venture. And, the pattern is all too similar.
They will buy time to summon the team and trim it to the final 23-man squad as they listen to various lobbies from football agents who want their players to make the Afcon team. In that regard, don’t be surprised to see inactive players or names from obscure leagues making the final 23.
Then, Fufa will wait until the last few days to call a press conference and announce how it needs some billions to adequately prepare the team. Oftentimes, government panics and gives them their wish.Interestingly, Caf gives each qualified team at least $1+million, a colossus amount enough to cover all costs of preparations.
However, Fufa will never come out to announce this for fear of attracting public scrutiny. Even accountability for such funds remains known to a few individuals.
Local players should be fighting for slots with a well-established glasnost screening system headed by icons like Tom Lwanga, William Nkemba, Sam Kabugo, Frank Anyau, but out of 400+ Uganda Premier League (UPL) players less than one per cent will future in Afcon. Ask yourself; what’s the role of Uganda Premier League?
The author is Nyamityobora FC president.