10 December 2012

Uganda: Fans Want More Than Cecafa Cup

Cecafa victory is no longer big news for Uganda. After all, the Cranes have won the annual trophy a record 13 times.

The competition however became something toast about on Saturday. Reason: the country that Uganda was up against in the final was Kenya.

Kenya was partly the reason Uganda didn't qualify for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations finals. With Uganda needing only a draw to advance to the final tournament, Kenya came to Namboole and put up a spirited fight denying the hosts the desperately needed win.

"It's sweet revenge," Ugandans chanted. "It's payback time. Enjoy the pain," read one placard that the home fans carried on saturday.

But trust the Kenyans. They were also not about to be silenced. One of their placards underlined their quest for a repeat of the 2011 experience:"After Al Shabab, Uganda is next."

With the Cranes leading 1-0, the home fans started reminding hundreds of Kenyans in stadium of that cold October evening when Harambee Stars held Uganda to a goal-less draw.

But this was briefly to stop as many Ugandans almost suffered heart attacks with Edwin Lavatsa getting last Saturday' equalizer with five minutes left.

But in a dramatic reversal, new wonder kid Geoffrey "Baba" Kizito headed in the winner at the death. Namboole then burst out in celebration. "It was like awakening from the dead," said a fan.

Having made such a recovery, there was all the reason to celebrate.With East African Breweries as tournament sponsors, the celebrating fans couldn't have had a better ally.

Tuskers were swallowed until the wee hours of the night in the stadium. A Tusker tent and VIP bar were the filling point that kept those celebrating in the right mood.

Fireworks had earlier lit up the skies as the grand trophy and tournament cheques were being handed over. Vice President Edward Sekandi handed over the trophy.

Ndere Troupe also did their thing at the closing ceremony. To follow the action were close to 30,000 fans.

The hosts backed Zanzibar in the third place play off match. This was as a payback for a bruising semi-final game where the Kilimanjaro Stars left many Cranes players injured. Uganda cheered the islanders to victory over their big brothers.

But amidst all this, Ugandans were not lost on the fact that there is need for their team to soar higher. One poster summed it all up "Bobby we love you, but why don't you qualify for big tournaments?"

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