By Baker Kasigwa, former Cranes player
It’s long since I watched the Cranes in action. To be precise, I last watched a national team game when the Cranes played Ghana’s Black Stars in 2006 .
So, I might not be in position to authoritatively comment on the team. However, in any football match there are basics you must get right. The most important is belief. However good or skillful you might be, you can’t win if you aren’t confident.
Confidence is one of the main pillars on which great teams stand. In the 40 years I was active in football, I saw many teams excel not because they were technically very good, but because they were simply confident.
If you watched the 1999 UEFA Champions League final, then you know exactly what I am talking about. Manchester United emerged champions because of belief. Bayern Munich was tactically a better team, but the English side thrived on fighting spirit. They battled to the final minute and walked away supreme.
It’s this kind of conviction that had us beating England’s Olympic team on a tour of England in 1956. Prior to kick-off that warm summer afternoon, everything was evidently in favour of the hosts. They were not only the better facilitated team, but they also had home advantage.
Statistics also favoured the Englishmen. English clubs had turned us into punching bags in matches preceding our encounter with the Olympic team. And, apart from all this, we were a barefooted team!
At 79, my memory is fading but I remember that afternoon very well. We were about to complete the tour and the entire team was determined to conclude with a positive result. How could we return home and tell Ugandans that we had lost all our team matches?
By kick-off, our determination was almost palpable. We put up a gallant fight and by the final whistle, we had won 2-1. That is what determination can do.
The Cranes are no different. If they indeed believe that they can beat Zambia, then we shall most likely beat Zambia next Saturday. It’s all about belief.