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Football: Why Ugandans should be proud of 2022

By Brian Aheebwa
She Corporate players celebrate their 2-1 victory over CBE as they qualified for the regional final | Ismail Mulangwa Image

It is less than a month into 2023 but there is plenty of stuff that football enthusiasts in Uganda should be proud of while referring to the previous year, 2022.

This writer takes an insight to justify the aforementioned, compiling Uganda’s football achievements in the past 12 months.

Uganda’s continental presence in 2022 was remarkable and one can only hope that 2023 turns out the same way, or even better.

The Crested Cranes, Uganda Hippos, She Corporate WFC, BUL FC, Vipers SC, and Uganda Cranes gave Ugandan football an awesome touch in 2022 – not forgetting an individual in coach Charles Ayiekoh.

After a 22-year absence from the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, the Crested Cranes qualified for WAFCON, a tournament that was held in Morocco.

Before representing at the 2022 WAFCON edition, George Lutalo’s charges won the CECAFA Women’s Championship as hosts – a competition that acted as a build-up to their WAFCON.

BUL celebrate with the Uganda Cup trophy after defeating Vipers 3-1 in Masindi | Red Rhino Image

Unfortunately, Uganda’s Female National Team did not go beyond the group stages but given that their last appearance was in 2000, being involved again was just enough.

The Uganda Hippos had already set the bar high for themselves when they reached the U20 Africa Cup of Nations final before losing to Ghana during their maiden appearance in Mauritania in 2021.

In 2022, the Hippos did not look back when they defended their CECAFA Championship in Sudan, and hence qualified for their second straight AFCON tournament.

They will be taking part in the 2023 edition slated for February in Egypt and hopefully, they can emulate their 2021 performance or even go a step further to win the competition.

But head coach Jackson Mayanja’s ultimate target is for Uganda to reach the semifinals and qualify for the 2023 U20 FIFA World Cup in Indonesia.

The 2021/22 FUFA Women’s Super League (FWSL) champions She Corporates WFC were not the first Ugandan team to make it to the CAF Women’s Champions League Zonal Qualifiers.

Lady Doves were the Ugandan first team to achieve the feat but exceptionally, the She Corporate were the first Ugandan side to reach the final but lost to Tanzanian giants Simba Queens.

Crested Cranes players pose for a team photo before they faced Burundi in the final of the CECAFA Senior Women’s Challenge Cup | FUFA Image

The latter was impressed by She Corporate’s head coach Ayiekoh and lured him to Tanzania.

He guided them to the semifinals of the CAF Women’s Champions League in Morocco, the first CECAFA team to reach that level and Ugandans should be proud of Ayiekoh individually.

The StarTimes Uganda Premier League champions Vipers SC made history in 2022 when they against all odds qualified for the group stages of the CAF Champions League.

It will be the first time that the Venoms will be playing at the continent’s greatest club competition.

It is remarkable in the sense that not is it Vipers’ maiden appearance but also only the second time that a Ugandan side is achieving the feat.

The first team to qualify for the group stages of the Champions League was KCCA FC five years ago in 2018.

BUL FC, the winners of the 2022 Stanbic Uganda Cup were also on the continent for the first time taking part in the Confederation Cup.

Although they did not go beyond the first phase of qualification it was brilliant for them as oil manufacturers and Uganda as a whole.

The Uganda Cranes who are of course everyone’s center of focus qualified for the African Nations Championship (CHAN) for a record sixth time and will be hoping to go past the group stages for the first time at the ongoing tournament in Algeria.

The only thing that may have not gone well is Uganda not playing at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar but again when have they ever qualified for the World’s greatest football showpiece?

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