Uganda Cranes make it, finally
Of the squad that made Uganda proud this year, no one was born yet the last time we played at the Africa Cup of Nations. But on September 4 at Mandela National Stadium, after several campaigns that always opened with promise, dipped into uncertainty before closing with failure, the boys wrote a new script thanks to that first half strike by Farouk Miya. That 1-0 win over Comoros 1-0 secured Cranes a slot at the 2017 Afcon finals in Gabon as we progressed as one of the two best group runners-up with 13points. The 2017 Afcon kicks off on January 14 and Uganda is in Group D with Egypt, Ghana and Mali.
Year to remember for Rugby Cranes
Not to be outdone, the Uganda Rugby Cranes this year scored a first of their own, reaching the final of the Africa Cup Rugby Sevens after first defeating archrivals and neighbours Kenya 17-12 in the semis before going ahead to defeat Namibia 38-19 in the final in Nairobi, Kenya. The victory gave the team a pass to the Rugby Sevens World Series where they had the chance to face giants like South Africa on this stage for the first time. It was a baptism of fire. In the opening leg of the series in Dubai, the Rugby Cranes lost all group stage games and a week later fared no better in Cape Town. Yet, even with the forgettable team performances, the individual performances of Philip Wokorach and Lawrence Sebuliba provided some of the highlights of the two Sevens series.
Mixed fortunes for City Oilers
City Oilers are the undisputed reference for all things that are good about Ugandan basketball and this year they extended their dominant ways to the region as they triumphed at the 2016 FIBA Africa Zone V Championship that was held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Oilers defeated Kenyan side Ulinzi 72-49 to clinch their maiden title after coming close last year. Oilers also gained automatic qualification at the FIBA Africa Club Championship in Cairo and that’s where things did not go too well; they finished ninth after a chastening experience where their only win came in the classification game having first lost all their group games. The National Basketball League defending champions however still look good to retain their title.
Denis Onyango makes history
You would have thought the year could not get any better for Cranes goalkeeper Denis Onyango after he played a leading role to ensure our qualification for the Afcon. Yet Onyango, already a league champion with his South African club Mamelodi Sundowns was not content with local club and national accolades. He went for the jugular, helping his club side to continental glory as he starred in a successful bid for the CAF African Champions League that climaxed with a triumph over Egyptian heavyweights Zamalek. With that accomplishment he secured his place in history as the first Ugandan to win the title. He would also go on to become the first Ugandan to feature at the Club World Cup, although Mamelodi Sundowns lost both their fixtures. These heroics have seen him through to the final shortlist for the CAF Best African-based Footballer. The winner will be announced on January 5, 2017.
An Olympics adventure to forget
This year Uganda fielded it’s largest ever Olympic squad, with 21 athletes included to take part at the Rio Olympics in various disciplines. There was no safety in numbers, however. Only three athletes managed to make it to the finals in their respective events; Ronald Musagala in the 1500m, Joshua Cheptegei in 5000m and finally Jacob Araptany who lost out in the 3000m steeple chase finals after failing to jump the hurdle. The most disappointing participant was 2012 London Olympic Gold medalist Stephen Kiprotich in whom most of the nation’s hopes rested; he failed to even make it to the marathon top ten.
And a hero at the Paralympics…
After witnessing tragicomedy from our squad in Rio, not many Ugandans anticipated there would medals of any kind at such a big stage, but two weeks after the conclusion of the Olympics, the Paralympics got underway and with no Ugandan yearning to watch, the only representative of the nation–David Emong—surprised us all by managing to scoop a silver medal in the men’s T46 1500m finals. This became Uganda’s first medal in the competition since our first appearance in 1972.