By Fred Kaweesi
In the aftermath of Uganda Cranes’ heart-breaking defeat to African champions Zambia, head coach Bobby Williamson told the media: “We should have gone into extra-time instead of straight into penalties. We won 1-0 and it’s unfair that a qualification has to be reached through that means.”
The Scot’s statement became the subject of a heated debate on social media networks, with many Ugandans calling for the resignation of the Scot, on the basis that he did not seem to know that the rules stipulated a penalty shoot-out after normal time.
That if Williamson had been aware, he would have opted for goalkeeper Abbey Dhaira, whose penalty heroics are legendary or a different substitution other than Patrick Ochan with the hindsight of a penalty shoot-out in mind.
However, Williamson came out fighting on Monday and insisted that he was simply misunderstood. “People always misunderstand me. I knew the rules. I knew that if we won the game 1-0, we were going straight into penalties,” Williamson stated.
“That is why we were confident in the shoot-out. If you noticed all the players that took the last penalties were taken by players who had not been scoring penalties before. We had practiced each time after training,” the Scot added.
“Denis Onyango was still the right man for the penalties because he has saved a couple of them before for us, including that in Guinea Bissau.”
The fans’ concerns stemmed from the botched campaign of 2008, where Cranes failure to qualify for the 2010 Nations Cup was attributed to the technical team’s failure to interprete rules and technicalities involved.
Then, Uganda self-destructing in Niger. The Cranes took the lead through David Obua and could have guaranteed qualification with even a 1-1 draw.
However, given the fact that the technical staff were not aware of the mathematics involved, Cranes opted to continue attacking in the hunt for goals. In the process, Uganda succumbed to three goals and lost the fixture 3-1.
In the aftermath, former FUFA Chief Executive Officer Charles Masembe was criticised for declaring that Uganda had qualified for the Nations Cup, when in actual sense Cranes had narrowly missed out.
FUFA vice president (technical) Livingstone Kyambadde also emphasised his team were aware of the rules.
“I think Bobby meant that it could have been better to play into extra time. We knew the rules before the game.”