Exactly 10 years ago, Ugandan football came face to face for the first time in a big way with the clause Force Majeure.
The Uganda Cranes had arrived in full force in the South African state of Lesotho for a make-or-break match. Having beaten Lesotho 3-0 in Kampala on September 2, 2006, Uganda looked a good bet to snatch all three points June 17, 2007 in the away match.
The mathematics in the group meant that while Nigeria looked set to top the group, victory in Lesotho would give Uganda Cranes the points needed to advance as the second best team to the 2008 Nations Cup finals.
Ugandan football was riding a new wave 2006-2007, with FUFA President Lawrence Mulindwa leading a drive to break the Nations Cup jinx, for Cranes had last appeared at the finals in 1978.
Uganda had recently brought in a foreign coach, German-Hungarian Laszlo Csaba, and had just beaten Nigeria 2-1 at Namboole with goals from David Obua and captain Ibrahim Sekagya.
Because of difficult travel plans, Uganda would travel to face “tiny” Lesotho without Obua and Sekagya.
Csaba however still had a strong team. This was his starting line up: D. Onyango, S. Masaba, N. Kizito,T. Batabaire, A. Mwesigwa, J. Bagoole, A. Bajope, D. Wagaluka, G. Massa, G. Serunkuma, A. Kadogo.
Save Uganda Soccer’s Dennis Mbidde, Aldrine Nsubuga and Fred Muwema had led the drive to oust Denis Obua as FUFA head, and had joined the new Mulindwa and Moses Magogo team, giving fans a lot of hope.
Mbidde, in charge of FUFA marketing, led travelling Uganda fans who had paid Shs2 million each, to Cranes base in South Africa, then they crossed over to Lesotho for the game. Hours to the match, it was revealed the Sunday June 17 game had to be postponed because the referees could not fly in on time for kick off!
CAF mentioned their Force Majeure and it hit the headlines in the Ugandan media.
The Force Majeure clause is a contract provision that allows a party to suspend or terminate the performance of its obligations when circumstances beyond their control arise, making performance inadvisable, commercially impracticable, illegal, or impossible.
In football, it is included for exceptional circumstances when a football match may not be played.
Tanzanian match officials Victor Mwandike, Charles Ndagala and Hamis Changwalu were held up in
Johannesburg for lack of South African visas.
The change left hundreds of Ugandan supporters mainly from Lesotho and neighbouring Southern African states disappointed as they would not be able to watch the game mid-week.
FUFA Lawyer Muwema then got busy as Uganda prepared to play under protest. An appeal against the circumstances of the decision was prepared but there was fear that if Lesotho was knocked out of the group, Uganda would not get the three points anyway. The group would then not qualify to vie for the best runner up slots in the 2008 qualification.
Group 3, 2008 qualifiers
Best runners up, 2008 qualifiers
The change in kick-off date clearly upset the Ugandans, and it showed on the pitch. Key marksman Geoffrey Massa missed chance after chance, and the game ended goalless. Not the result Uganda had travelled for, especially as it emerged Nigeria had won 3-1 away in Niger, and had virtually secured top spot.
At the end of the qualification run, Tunisia snatched one of the three places reserved for the best group runners-up with 13 points, with Uganda losing out on the other two places on goal difference.
Fast forward to 2017, the circumstances are different in many ways this time, with Uganda actually benefiting from the Force Majeure clause.
Moses Magogo is now president of FUFA, Mbidde is leader of delegation – fresh from a war of words with his former boss Mulindwa, and Cranes are fresh from a Nations Cup finals appearance.
Uganda’s players have travelled to Cape Verde in batches, and the last one was delayed.
The CAF statement below explains the circumstances:
The Group L Day One clash between Cape Verde and Uganda, originally scheduled for Saturday, 10 June 2017 in Praia has been postponed for 24 hours.
The decision was taken by the Organising Committee for the Total Africa Cup of Nations due to the difficulties faced by the Ugandan team in arriving in Praia.
The flight of the Ugandan team didnot take-off as expected from Dakar (Senegal), where they held a training camp due to a technical problem, which constitutes a case of force majeure.
The match will therefore take place on Sunday, 11 June 2017 at the same time and venue with the same officials.
A clear case of Force Majeure!
But the story might not be over, as Uganda is again grouped with Lesotho in the 2019 Nations Cup final qualifiers that got underway this weekend.
*** Sources New Vision, Wikepedia
— The Independent (@UGIndependent) June 10, 2017