By JAMES WAINDI in Kampala
Harambee Stars skipper Dennis Oliech felt sorry for arch rivals Uganda Cranes after the Group J favourites missed a chance to end their 33-year Africa Cup of Nations drought following a barren draw in a thrilling match dubbed ‘Migingo Derby’ at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Nambole, Kampala on Saturday.
Oliech, however, called on handlers of the Stars, to lay out a proper training programme for the team ahead of the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, to enable them have a start to the campaign and enhance their chances of booking a ticket to Brazil.
Harambee Stars captain Dennis Oliech in action against Uganda Cranes in Kampala on Saturday. [PHOTO: GOVEDI ASUTSA/STANDARD]
"Uganda have themselves to blame for their painful exit from the continental campaign. They had everything in control with two qualifiers to go. They only needed a draw in Angola to qualify and they failed to get it and at home they had every reason to beat us in front of such a crowd and they failed.
"I have never seen Uganda so many chances against us, but they failed to utilise them, but this if football, though I really feel sorry for them," said Oliech.
Cranes’ fate was sealed after Angola beat Guinea Bissau 2-0 in Bissau in the other match of the group, to emerge as the group leaders with 12 points. Uganda finished second on 11 points while Kenya was third on eight points.
The local who looked crestfallen after the match, just like their players, said Angola did not qualify for the continental event through their hard work, but Kenya gave them the ticket.
A statement released by the Federation of Uganda Football Association (Fufa) president Lawrence Mulindwa said: "Our goalless draw to visiting Harambee Stars caused us a painful exit from this year’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, a moment all of us in Fufa believe will take long to heal."
"As the Federation, we put in place all we thought would make Uganda cross the bridge since the campaign started but God has continued to put us on a waiting list."
"We cannot blame anybody for this aborted mission, not even ourselves, the technical bench, the, the players…but ‘God’s plan is no appeal!’ The impressive response from the Government and President Yoweri Museveni in particular was an encouragement and we pray that this spirit continues to prevail."
With Kenya beginning their World Cup qualifying campaign next month against Seychelles, Oliech called for a positive start to the campaign that would motivate the team all the way. "In qualifiers you have to have a positive start," he told FeverPitch.