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The Monitor (Kampala)
Uganda Cranes Have Done Well at Afcon
Following a 39-year wait, Uganda regained its place at the continent's football table of men when the senior team Cranes featured at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Gabon.
Everything seemed new when then captain Geoffrey Massa led his teammates against Ghana in Port-Gentil to put a nearly four-decade wait behind them. The unique thrill then was fresh and packaged with anxiety considering the biggest portion of Ugandans had never witnessed their own at Afcon.
But it was not the same story by the time the Uganda Cranes settled in for the on-going edition in Egypt.
Certainly, the shine wasn't there but it all changed when Patrick Kaddu and Emmanuel Okwi struck to give Uganda an opening 2-0 victory over DR Congo at the Cairo International Stadium on June 22.
This was Uganda's only fourth win in Afcon history, consequently awakening every football die-hard and Cranes' admirer.
By the time the Cranes played their second match in Cairo against Zimbabwe, their attention back home had exponentially grown and social media platforms were buzzing.
Notwithstanding the close shaves which included captain Denis Onyango's dive to save Evans Rusike's effort from the line, the Cranes vindicated the hype with a vital point in the 1-1 draw against the men from Harare.
Four points from the first 180 minutes is a mark of progress by the Cranes.
Two years ago, in Gabon, the Cranes did not know how to tame the waves at the Afcon sea hence identical 1-0 losses to Ghana and Egypt before bowing out with a 1-all draw with Mali.
And even with the coaching change from Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic via Moses Basena to now Sebastien Desabre, they maintained their stead in growth.
For Fufa, it is a big tick for president Moses Magogo who promised a lot about 'Project 2019'. It has come to pass and there is more optimism than the recent times.
Luckily, the Cranes have three feeder teams and whichever distance Onyango and company can go, the hope is the U23 youth group which has the likes of Allan Okello and Geoffrey Wasswa, U20s with Sadat Anaku and U17s with Ivan Asaba can carry on the mantle at the future Afcon editions.
Successful national teams build on generations that normally sustain an eight-year period and then hand over to another.
In two years’, time, today's Cranes' fringe players like Timothy Awany, Allan Kateregga, Okello and other youngsters should be having a bigger say at Afcon for consistency and sustainability.
For now, there is more to believe in the future of Cranes.