I hate to be the harbinger conveyer but when it seems inevitable, I gather the nerves and let it out. For those of you well abreast with Ugandan soccer history, you will remember the scenario that rocked the national team in 1993 when key players refused to join the team set to play DR Congo (then Zaire).
Though stars like the late Magid Musisi wanted to show solidarity for their banned captain marvel Paul Hasule (RIP), insiders revealed that a host of other complaints like meager bonuses had crept in.
That Cranes was humiliated out of the qualifiers is well enshrined in the local soccer annuals but that the same saddening episode is smoulderingly brewing in the current Cranes side is tear-jerking. It all started after the Uganda vs Rwanda friendly at Namboole last month that ended in a dull 0-0 draw.Player after player confided in journalists and ex-internationals how they were sent off without even transport!
The senior players sweet talked the newcomers to be calm and play for their nation rather than their pockets. When it came to CECAFA tourney, the $200 given to the players upon arriving in Nairobi reinstated hope that more was to come which explains the gusto applied in the first three group wins against Sudan, Rwanda and Eritrea.
When ignominious scenarios like the team being held for hours for failing to clear hotel bills set in, the players’ morale started diminishing. FUFA President Moses Magogo made it worse when he promised the team Shs10m only if they managed to make it to the finals.
What I am getting from my colleague Katongole Kiwanuka who covered the poverty stricken tourney and interacted with these players on a daily basis sunk my spirit further and if I am to envisage the next step; it isn’t fine at all. In fact some players upon returning on Sunday spoke with disinterest in reporting to the Cranes camp for CHAN soon.
“Man, the festive season is approaching and I can’t believe I have nothing to show to my family for the two weeks I’ve been away. My club is also yet to pay me which means I must search for money from other avenues,” said a player friend who of course fears reprisal from authorities if mentioned.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, players like Livingstone Mbabazi and Ibrahim Ssekagya would cater for money minting club moves first before considering playing for Cranes in vital qualifiers.
Tell me if that can’t be replicated now if a player got a professional trial deal next week when the Cranes are supposed to be preparing for the January CHAN tourney.
Soon we’re going to have players faking injuries, absconding from camp whilst others turning down the summons to avoid a venture from which they benefit less.
The rookies will continue to join Cranes ranks which by the way also shrinks the Cranes caliber but the stars that would help Cranes perform at continental level like CHAN will follow Hassan Wasswa into Vietnam hibernation!
Brace yourselves for a messed up next four years.