There always appears to be a subtle seductiveness in a well-told lie, but -- as Cranes fans can attest -- all is not as it seems. Blurring the distinctions between fact and fantasy does not quite undermine the infrastructure of reality. If anything it produces new wrinkles as one moves from the imagined to real world.
And so was the case this past Monday. Uganda had just been defeated 3-0 under the lights in Tanzania, and it definitely felt like the morning after the night before for Cranes faithful. Many of them felt violated after watching their team take a pummelling in what was essentially a dead rubber. It did no matter that the Cranes had spared the fans the paralysing horror of having to sift through different permutations on the final matchday of a qualification campaign.
What mattered and certainly worried them most was that their team was splitting at the seams in of all things a derby match. The scale of defeat -- one not suffered at the hands of a regional opponent at least in recent memory -- further maintained their scorn. Reacting with the consternation that they mustered has led a number of observers to conclude that Cranes fans possess an unfailing sense of entitlement. That these fans -- in their little imagined world -- have put the Cranes on a pedestal. Reality, however, reflects a less glamorous truth.
While Cranes fans got a reality check of sorts, one cannot overlook the fact that the players that wore the national strip in Dar es Salaam did not emerge from the whole episode smelling of roses. The players were not at the races, and they succeeded in turning a performance that was unacceptable on many levels. This should greatly worry their coach, Sebastian Desabre. The Frenchman is widely expected to use more or less the same squad that was at his disposal when Uganda figures in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals in June.
Here is the reality though: a qualifying group comprising Cape Verde, Tanzania and Lesotho did not drift inexorably toward being impregnable. It was in fact in many respects a group of life. After being placed in pot three ahead of next month's 2019 Afcon draw, the possibility of ending up in a group of death looms large.
Imagined it may be, but the countries that Uganda could draw from pots one (Egypt, Ghana, Tunisia, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Senegal), two (Morocco, Nigeria, DR Congo, Algeria, Mali and Guinea) and even four (Mauritania, Namibia, Benin, Kenya, Madagascar and Tanzania) are no slouches. Even if the goddess of good fortune smiled on Uganda, chancing it another group of life, don't write off the possibility of the Cranes pressing the self destruct button. The seductiveness of the well-told lie notwithstanding, it's always judicious to err on the side of caution when it comes to all things Ugandan sport.
Group of death looms large. Even if the goddess of good fortune smiled on Uganda, chancing it another group of life like in the qualifiers, don't write off the possibility of the Cranes pressing the self destruct button.