Unfazed and nonchalantly is what best defines the manner in which Uganda Cranes fans, many of which clad in red sauntered into the stadium.
Their locomotion carrying a body language of people who didn’t know what to expect inside the Mandela National Stadium, given that it’s been a staggering 366 days since the Cranes played in front of them.
The game had a slow start as the Cranes struggled for rhythm and this was evident in the meagre crowd who plodded to rally behind the team as chunks of the humongous 40,000-capacity stadium was empty.
As the minutes trickled by, droves of fans kept finding their way into the ground which set precedence for the atmosphere that the team so much desired.
The fans didn’t have to wait long before their moment of baptism arrived when Gabadinho Mhango had his name taken for dissent. This was received with a raucous roar that had the whole place buzzing. The tone for the team was there on set and the Cranes were on the up onwards.
Delirium soon gripped the Namboole courtesy of the 12th man’s resounding ululations when at the half-hour mark, Emanuel Okwi calmly controlled a long ball before smashing it past the on-rushing Brighton Munthali. One nil to the Cranes and euphoria in the stands was there for all to see.
The Cranes never looked back, as the blueprint to the 2-0 victory was set. Even when you feel the crowd could have offered much more, you’ve got to give it to the sea of red who yelled their voices hoarse for the Uganda Cranes just to see them across the line.
Not the biggest number of spectators that Namboole has seen, and neither is it the least but there was a sense of unison in the stands.
A day after these same set of fans witnessed KCCA edge Vipers at Lugogo, both were at it again as they all unanimously cheered KCCA stalwart Allan Okello’s entrance for Luwagga Kizito in the 66th minute before two minutes later they cheered on Vipers’ Fahad Bayo as he coolly finessed for the Cranes’ second.
From then onwards the theme for the evening was set as the crowd was all gaily for every touch a man in red made.
This resounding confidence also trickled into the team as they boastfully knocked the ball around the Malawi players who seemed to be in sixes and sevens more often than not.
This was the perfect night for the overly joyous bunch of fans who had to wait for 366 days to see their beloved team play on their own turf.
In a nutshell, it was a win-win situation for both parties as the team once again delivered on home territory for the umpteenth time of asking while for the fans, this long sabbatical finally brought them some joy.