When Uganda went all the way to the final of the 1978 Africa Cup of Nations, the hopes of a nation lied in a local coach Peter Okee to deliver the holy grail.
Unfortunately, Uganda lost to Ghana 2-0 in front of 40,000 spectators at Accra Sports Stadium on a hot March 16th afternoon.
That’s 43 years ago, Morley Byekwaso the head coach of the Hippos at the ongoing 2021 U20 Africa Cup of Nations was just two years old.
On Saturday, March 6th an old foe stands between Byekwaso, the Hippos, and the U20 African title.
By the way, Ghana are a three-time winner of the competition while the Hippos are making their debut appearance.
But as far as Byekwaso is concerned, and for those who know him too well, that will matter less.
The assistant manager at KCCA FC is a man on a mission and he knows how to make his troop deliver at all cost as he has done throughout the tournament.
As a player, he has faced Ghana on several occasions both at the club and national team level and he should be able to tell a story or two to his players in one of the team talks leading up to the final.
Wanting to be an African champion is without a doubt a driving factor but this feat is not for him alone, it is for all the local coaches who for long have demanded for an opportunity to coach their national team.
Especially since the few times, they have been given an opportunity, they have actually delivered.
Moses Basena guided Ugadan to the 2018 CHAN finals while Abdallah Mubiru repeated the feat for the 2020 edition.
Although at both occasions, a foreign coach was hired to take on the task at the finals.
Okee was the first local coach to guide Uganda to an AFCON final, many have tried to even qualify for major tournaments and failed.
Byekwaso is the second since Okee four decades ago, and he has an opportunity to open a new chapter in Ugandan football history.
But also erase the 1978 tears after three or even four generations against an old enemy with only history and pedigree to show-off.