Ugandans better not entirely rely on their team bringing them joy in Egypt
Uganda couldn’t have asked for a better base for the forthcoming Africa Cup of Nations. Cairo, the world’s 15th largest city, is a football fan’s dream.
Apart from the soccer-mad Egyptians; the 75,000 seater Cairo International stadium is very accessible.
Cairo is a modern metropolis that will have everyone sorted right from accommodation, feeding to transport.
In accessibility, I draw a comparison with Port Gentil, the remote Gabon city where Uganda was based in the last tournament.
Getting to this western point of the country was a nightmare. For starters, Gabon hosting its biggest tournament ever was overwhelmed.
Airport staff simply couldn’t handle the sudden influx of incoming delegations. This wouldn’t happen in Egypt which has hosted multiple international events.
In Libreville, the big Ugandan contingent spent a night at the Leon-Mba international airport because of lack of a connecting flight.
Seeing top Federation of Uganda Football Associations officials sleeping on the floor was an embarrassment.
While the hosts should be blamed, Uganda was also to blame for poor planning. A well-arranged trip would have had the Ugandan delegation arriving at least a day earlier not on the eve of the match. That won’t happen in Egypt.
Even if the Cranes were to be based in say Alexandria, transport is the least of worries in North Africa’s tourism hub.
Then making the flight from the capital Libreville to Port Gentil was equally unpredictable. You had to pray that you avoided the ever-turbulent winds that made the 35-minute flight a horrific experience.
Then it got even more frightening when you got to learn that the only other option of travel was by water: in the Atlantic where the currents were even more suicidal.
When it got to feeding in Port Gentil, if you were not in a major hotel, you had to be careful or else you would end up feasting on a snake, dog or some wild bird.
Apparently, these are delicacies in many of the West African states. Things like feeding are amongst a foreigner’s least worries in Egypt given the country’s immense involvement in tourism.
At its peak tourism employs about 12% of Egypt’s workforce, serving approximately 14.7 million visitors Egypt, and providing revenues of nearly $12.5 billion (sh46.5 trillion) Then as a tourist, there is more to see in Cairo than Gabon. The Pyramids are every tourist’s dream.
The Nile dinner cruise, camel riding and quad bike rides in the desert and Giza Antiquities museum are just some of those things that will keep you busy.
With all this in mind, Ugandans better not entirely rely on their team bringing them joy in Egypt.
There is more to enjoy.