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Steve and Emma's Travel Tales

Ole Ole Ole Uganda Cranes Ole

UGANDA | Saturday, 15 November 2014 | Views [308]

The Ghana Black Stars were coming to town to play the Ugandan Cranes in an AFCON qualifier so we had to go along to Nambolle Stadium and watch. We managed to eventually find out where to buy tickets, at a hardware store in Ntinda obviously, and plumped for the VIP tickets at 50,000 shillings. Last time we went to a game we were in the cheap seats and there was an all mighty crush to get in the one gate, so we thought we would go for a more civilised option this time. We even had a seat number.

The best way to get to the ground on Jinja Road is by boda-boda motorbike taxi. Well maybe not the safest way but definitely the quickest due to the traffic jams heading towards the ground. We bombed down the by-pass and if the game is half as thrilling as the boda ride it should be some match. Luckily we only got hit by one matatu van and arrived in one piece, just. We made sure we got there early and we got in easily this time through the VIP gate.

Normally in England you get in the ground 5 minutes before kick-off but here there is plenty to keep you entertained pre-match. They had set up lots of beer stalls and people were drinking and dancing to the loud tunes blaring out of the sound system, a bit more cultured than Mary D’s outside City’s ground! The atmosphere was party like even though Uganda didn’t have much of a chance against the Ghanaians and qualification was unlikely after successive defeats to Togo last month. Nobody seemed to care as long as the music was good. We had a couple of beers and watched the festivities. Everyone seemed pleased that a couple of Muzungus had come along to watch the Cranes. There were also lots of food stalls selling meat on sticks and the like. One guy was proudly chopping up a goat. We used to sing ‘feed the goat and he will score’ at City but here you definitely ‘eat the goat’.

Soon it was time to head up to our reserved seats in the VIP section. Think using the letters VIP was actually over selling it a bit as they were just pieces of wood stuck on to the terraces with no back! We found our assigned seats to discover someone sitting in the seat of course and he eventually reluctantly shifted over. We had great seats right next to a fence. Like being back in the 80’s watching through a fence. Never mind. The ground wasn’t full as even though Ghana possess some top players, the fans seemed to have given up on the Cranes chances of qualifying. The crowd however made up for a lack of numbers by volume. There is a constant buzz of the vuvuzela, imagine putting your head inside a hornet’s nest for 90 minutes and you would get the idea. The noise was cranked up further as the Cranes took a surprise lead early on. The football wasn’t great and the pitch was a cabbage patch but it was a vibrant atmosphere.

At half time we headed down for refreshment and I could not resist a bit of goat on stick, the guy fished out the liver especially for me and he seemed to think he was doing me a favour. The pies at Maine Road aren’t all that bad after all. We got back to our seats shortly after the start of the second half to find that the guy who was in our seat at the start of the match had moved his wife and 2 kids into our seats and refused to move. Of course they didn’t have tickets and they were clearly our seats but they just stared through us when we asked them to move. They wouldn’t even shove up and the only thing the woman said was ‘we can sit here because we are Ugandan’ – nice. Well she couldn’t see much we me stood in front of her so she eventually sent the kids away and moved up. Not much happened in the second half but Uganda held on for an unlikely victory to give them a chance at going through to the finals if they draw in Guinea.

As you can imagine the crowd were in party mood and as we got a boda back along the by-pass people were lining the road cheering us as we went by. We felt like we had won the game ourselves.


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