They shoved and muscled, they created, huffed and puffed till the end but the Uganda Cranes efforts yielded nothing as they went crashing out of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2017 in Gabon in a painful manner. The Cranes therefore became the first team to be eliminated from the competition after losing 1-0 to African giants Egypt yesterday at Port-Gentil stadium Gabon.
The pulsating game was played in high tempo and the Cranes gave good account of themselves with a performance that the fans have generally applauded. This follows yet another good performance the Cranes exhibited in second half of their opening game against Ghana on Tuesday which they went on to lose 1-0 as well, courtesy of a careless penalty give away by defender Isaac Isinde.
The late winner was scored by Egypt’s Abdallah El Said who struck in the dying minutes of the game to knock out Uganda in their first Africa Cup of Nations appearance since 1978. It was danger man Mohamed Salah who teed up El Said, who struck firmly past Uganda keeper Denis Onyango on 89 minutes to kill the spirits of the Ugandans after a good fight. There were few clear cut chances created by both teams with only Joseph Ochaya’s off side goal the closest Cranes had.
The build up to yesterday’s game was dominated by discussion centered on social media bickering between former Cranes star David Obua and Cranes coach Milutin Sredojević Micho about the style of play and tactics the Cranes used in their first game with the latter referring to it as ‘Street football. This did not go well with the Serbian coach who fired back by referring to Obua who was speaking on his capacity as a SuperSport pundit as a ‘Perennial loser’ who failed to make it to AFCON after several attempts and is now ‘Jealousy’.
Whether those media fights had a direct effect on the Cranes performance, is a topic of discussion for another day. For now, the Cranes have to pick themselves up and prepare for their final group D game against Mali on Wednesday which will be a formality and also give a chance to test the other players who haven’t featured prominently or not at all.
Egypt will play Ghana to decide who tops the group while the Cranes game against Mali will most likely decide who else qualifies alongside The Black Stars of Ghana who beat Mali 1-0 earlier to move to 6points at the top. Hard luck Cranes. You did the country proud!