Uganda Cranes journey at the 2022 African Nations Championship (CHAN) came to an end last Sunday following a 3-1 defeat to Ivory Coast at Nelson Mandela Stadium in Algiers, Algeria.
The ultimate target of qualifying to the knockout stage for the first time in six attempts may not have been realized but there were positives picked.
On Sunday, FUFA President Hon. Magogo Moses Hassim treated the CHAN contingent to a luncheon at FUFA Complex in Mengo and highlighted several aspects indicating there was evident progress of the team.
The function was also attended by FUFA 2nd Vice President Darius Mugoye, FUFA 3rd Vice President Hon. Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi, FUFA EXCO Members Apollo Ahimbisibwe and Ronnie Kalema, FUFA EXCO Honorary member Hamid Juma, FUFA delegates Hassan Kirunda, Brian Miiro Nsubuga and Kampala RFA Chairman Dirisa Kasalirwe.
Others included National Teams Manager Patrick Ntege, National Teams Officer Paul Mukatabala, Kampala Region CEO Isaac Ssengendo and Chairman Uganda Football Players Association Paul Ssali.
‘I know many people look at results on the pitch but as administrators we consider a number of factors. There was a huge difference between the team that played at CHAN in Cameroon and the current squad. The difference this time, there were positives in terms of the performance of players’ stated the FUFA President.
‘I have always said that results do not paint the whole picture. We know this team is in a transitional period and whatever we are going through is part of the process. Unfortunately, the fans and everyone wants to win but World over transitions take time. It can even take two or three generations to return to the best.’
The President gave an example of the team that qualified to the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations and the number of attempts made before achieving the target.
‘I always give the team that qualified us to AFCON 2017 after 39 years as an example. They tried about six times but both the players and federation kept learning and when the right time came, we qualified. We even reached the knockout stage in the 2019 edition. After that, a number of players have retired and we had to go through transition to create a new team.’ He stated.
About CHAN 2022, the President indicated Uganda performed well despite not getting out of the group.
“In my rating, this is the best CHAN performance Uganda has had. In 2014 we also finished with 4 points, competing against Morocco, Zimbabwe and Burkina Faso. Look at our opponents this time, Senegal are the Champions of Africa, DR Congo have won this tournament twice and Ivory Coast are perennial contenders. Therefore, we had the chance to be tested at that level and I believe the players benefited.”
He also promised to give the team maximum support to ensure the process of transition is handled well.
“I know we have a double header against Tanzania coming up in March. As players, you have the League resuming and it is upon you to go, perform well and get summoned. Many of you are capable of playing on the senior team.” He told the players.
The President then revealed that every member of the team (Players and officials) that was in Algeria will receive a package of $2,500.
‘According to calculations, everyone was supposed to get about $1,800 but as FUFA, we decided to make it $2,500 as a way of motivating you.’
FUFA 2nd Vice President Darius Mugoye lauded the team for the performance and told them not to lose focus.
‘I know you read and listen to a lot of opinions from the public but that should not make you lose focus. I was in Algeria and saw everyone performing to their best, so we should keep going and not lose focus.’
The Leader of Delegation, Dr. Apollo Ahimbisibwe appreciated FUFA for providing the best preparations to the team.
“I want to confirm that this team had the best preparations going to CHAN both here and abroad. Camping in Tunisia and playing three friendlies offered a good gauge and I am confident to say this team is destined for the best’ Noted Dr. Ahimbisibwe.
Coach Micho was full of praise for the players and also thanked FUFA for doing their best in terms of preparations.
“FUFA has the technical agenda for the National Team and CHAN was one of the the pillars. The others are international friendlies, AFCON Qualifiers and the World Cup Qualifiers. I thank FUFA for providing the best conditions and I’m confident this team has a bright future.” The coach noted.
Skipper Milton Karisa also thanked FUFA for the opportunity and vowed to reciprocate the efforts on the pitch.
“We are happy as players that FUFA has provided the best environment for us to play. We promise that as a group, we will always play to our best efforts to make Ugandans proud.” Karisa stated.