BY ANDREW JACKSON ORYADA SNR*
Cranes skipper Denis Onyango has complained that the nation’s authorities are not serious about football after their draw with Ghana on Saturday.
The reigning Africa-based Football of the Year has acknowledged that he’s disappointed with the Uganda Football Association’s inability to properly prepare the playing surface at the Mandela National Stadium, Namboole ahead of their World Cup qualifier against the Black Stars.
Three days before the match, 60,000 worshipers had held an overnight prayer session at the stadium, with Onyango citing this as the reason why the turf was in such a poor condition.
“We failed to beat Ghana on Saturday because the pitch was not to our advantage as hosts,” Onyango told KweséESPN. “How can the authorities claim to like football and instead have another group of people use the stadium for prayers which led to the damage of the playing area?
“Playing on that Namboole surface was like playing in some village league because the standard of the pitch felt that way,” the Mamelodi Sundowns stopper fumed. “Our authorities should start thinking of what is important on how to grow sports and maintain facilities better.”
The two sides played out a 0-0 draw which helps neither in the race to reach Russia. Indeed, while both Uganda and Ghana could yet qualify for the World Cup, Egypt would top Group E – eliminating the other two – if they beat Congo-Brazzaville at home on Sunday.
“This is a World Cup qualifying match we are talking about and you have such a poor pitch,” Onyango added.
In a controversial contest, Ghana had a goal disallowed at the death with the linesman wrongly flagging Raphael Dwamena offside, despite replays showing the Black Stars forward was comfortably onside.
Jamil Ssewanyana, the Managing Director of the Mandela National Stadium, Namboole told KweséESPN that their hands had been tied, as the overnight prayer session had been booked before the Ugandan FA informed them of the match date.
“We also need to raise money to run the stadium and some of this money comes through other means besides football,” he added.
The draw leaves Uganda on eight points, one behind Egypt, and two clear of Ghana, and they have their work cut out to become East Africa’s first-ever representatives at the World Cup.
*Culled from ESPN