The weather was as expected hot with temperatures hitting 34 degrees on the Celsius reading before kickoff but favourably calmed down in the second half. Before the team travelled to Mombasa, the players were almost held hostage at Milele hotel over unpaid bills.
The local organizing committee had not cleared some bills and the Cranes players were temporarily held hostage. As a result, they missed their 4pm flight and had to wait at the airport for about 4 hours to get onto an 8pm flight. The flight could have worked negatively on the team. But tactician Micho seemed to be working on the players’ morale. “Football is what is played on the pitch. After suffering like this we should play to win,” Micho said in a phone chat.
When the Cranes finally landed in Mombasa, they were booked into the plush seaside Creekside Hotel. Cranes Media Manager Kenneth Muwanga told the story better.
“Wow! This is the best place I have been to. If you ever bring your wife here, they will never run away from you,” Muwanga described the scenes to behold at the hotel. Milele Hotel in Nairobi was also never a hassle for the players as everything needed was available. But according to Pepper Sport, it was established that morale was at its lowest in years.
It was established that players and the coaching staff alike were handed USD200 on departure to Nairobi as home upkeep.
When FUFA boss Moses Magogo briefed them on the bonuses, he promised USD3000 for reaching the finals. In financial terms, when sports Minister Charles Bakkabulindi visited camp last Friday, he provided techniques to the defenders, a position he claimed was his best before promising to rally fans to come and support the team. Maybe the better part was handing Hamis Kiiza a USD100 bill as condolences for losing his uncle prior to that game against Sudan.
“I cannot judge my players’ performance on penalties. We shall go to Kampala and correct our mistakes because this is a young team that can always improve,” said Micho.
Uganda Cranes was solid at the back. This has been for long Uganda’s advantage.
Tusker midfielder Khalid Aucho was probably the best player for the Cranes in the tournament, yet on his debut. SCVU towering defender Martin Mpuga impressed in his two games he played at the tournament; against Sudan in the 1-0 victory over Sudan yet he scored the equaliser as Uganda drew 2-1 against Tanzania in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
Kira Young’s defender Richard Kasagga continued to impress and had it not been the two goals that the Cranes conceded in the quarter finals, SCVU goalkeeper Benjamin Ochan proved to be a pillar.
As the Cranes prepare for the South African adventure in the CHAN finals, some players are assured of places. Sadly, Aucho is not eligible. The trouble for Micho would be fixing the midfield which at times lacked.
CECAFA didn’t witness the best of Geoffrey ‘Baba’ Kizito. Yet Joseph Mpande was at most 58 times short of the killer-pass instincts he is known of.
URA’s Said Kyeyune was sparingly used as a sub only making one start against Sudan as a last minute replacement for injured Savio Kabugo.
Micho will have to start from scratch in the next four weeks.
“We’ shall have to correct our mistakes. Uganda has enough talent and I think I have able replacements ahead of CHAN,” Micho said.
He will most likely consider inviting SC Villa’s Ayub Kisaliita, URA’s Oscar Agaba or KCCA’s Tom Matsiko.
The striking department will also be key for Micho as Dan Sserunkuuma who scored two goals in the tournament is ineligible as he plays for Kenya’s Gor Mahia.
The status of SC Villa on-loan striker Emmanuel Okwi, who captained the team in Kenya is still debatable.
According to official communication from FUFA, he is on loan at Villa and is said to still be owned by Tunisia’s Etoile du Sahel. He scored two goals in the tournament, against whipping boys Eritrea in the 3-0 routine win in the groups.
Micho needs to find a partner for him as Hamis ‘Diego’ Kiiza, who scored once from the spot against Eritrea, is too ineligible for CHAN.
A camp is urgent for the South African tour, but it could be just a tour at the Nelson Mandela burial ground if the funds are not urgently raised.