By Katongole Kiwanuka.
SATURDAY OCT. 13
Uganda vs Zambia (Agg: 0-1)
Tickets on sale
By far, as long as I have lived, the greatest Cranes team, supported with the best technical bench, amenities and sustained by immense treasure of Lawrence Mulindwa, is ready to go to war. There are people who cannot believe it up to now. This is a team that will attempt deliver a huge dream to anxious Ugandans.
A repetition of history? We’ve been unable to beat the qualifying gods for 34 years, and actually, most of the times it has been the pastime, ‘nearly’.
Well, on Saturday we could survive an attempt to conquer, but we must pray it is not October 8, 2011 again. Yet how, in view of the history, can we prevent another? And will 2011 be all over again? Are we so weak?
If these questions are to be answered honestly, we hope our administrators have learnt a lesson. Not like the French Bourbons who ‘learnt nothing and forgot nothing’.
“I am sure we shall make you guys proud,” defender Henry Kalungi told me.
It looks like everyone in camp is ready to defy this strange beast that denies us at the last minute and all are divorced from any pressures that come with it.
“We are just waiting for Saturday to come. We shall do our duty,” right back Godfrey Walusimbi, added.
For the Cranes to win, the biggest principle in such situations is morale. The fans presence is clearly unavoidable on Saturday.
The second is money. I am happy that loaded fellas like Ivan Ssemwanga, have come up to put up with bonuses. Mulindwa told the boys after eliminating Congo Brazzaville, that “I want you to do something that can even threaten my bank balances.”
Previously, we failed to qualify because our system was blind – ignoring all the advice from those who understood the problems from experience. But today, you cannot imagine coach Bobby Williamson can afford to even call up new names like Chrysostom Ntambi and Geoffrey Kizito at such a crucial moment. In the past such advice would be adamantly ignored. I even learnt that when Williamson makes his final cut, he engages; Mujib Kasule (I am not sure about his role on the Cranes), his assistant Jackson Mayanja, Asuman Lubowa (Technical Director), Stone Kyambadde (Vice President Youth), Crispus Muyinda (Manager), Andy Mwesigwa (captain) and Katende Malibu (Media Manager). This is an open system which allows better choices. It is the reason why Kizito, who was not battle experienced, made the trip to Zambia even when he was new to the Scotsman.
This final game is like moves on the chessboard, and after sacrificing a bishop in Ndola, we must tread carefully at Namboole.
“We’ll definitely score, but our defence must not leak,” said Geoffrey Massa.
Saturday’s game is about the everlasting survival. And it is about the millions of Ugandans who wish to support their homeboys in the Africa Cup of Nations finals by overcoming the possessed Zambians.
Nothing is there to worry our stars; this is just routine they go through as part of fulfilling their careers.
Meanwhile, the Chipolopolo who are expected to arrive today have been offered USD5000 (over Shs12m) each if they beat Uganda and qualify.
Zambia, who are the reigning champions, take a 1-0 lead into the second leg of their final round qualifier away to Uganda on Saturday.
The Chipolopolo will be without injured midfielder Rainford Kalaba and striker Jacob Mulenga, who is mourning the recent death of his father.