Uganda women’s national hockey team finished at the bottom of the eight teams (women) that graced the Africa Cup of Nations (ACN) than ran between January 17-23 at the Theodosia Okoh Hockey Stadium in Accra, Ghana.
Uganda women’s team lost all their matches both at the group stage and classification games, scoring only one goal that was slotted in by Thuwaibah Kiggundu in their 2-1 loss to Zambia in a 7/8 placement fixture. The team conceded 24 goals from five games.
A week later, Moses Nsereko, the Uganda women’s national team coach says that the Ghana outing served him and the entire group both the good and bad experience, on and off the turf with the team having made their debut at the continental showpiece.
“Despite the poor results, it was a very nice experience for us. Making history (debut) was a good feeling and I can remember that moment when our anthem played before the game against Namibia, it was such a proud moment for all of us,” Nsereko said.
Albeit holding Namibia for the better part of their opening game, Uganda’s steam seemingly ran out in the final stages of the match as they conceded three late goal to ‘gift’ the former a 3-0 win.
“We gave away that game. We both had three corners, we didn’t utilize any but Namibia utilized one and scored a goal. The first goal changed things and the players lost their heads but in the beginning we had played very well,” Nsereko added.
The next day Uganda lost 5-0 to Zimbabwe ladies side and according to Nsereko, they went into that clash without knowing what to expect from the opponent and the side would go ahead to exert lots of pressure on his side and they had to play catch-up against a highly paced side.
In their final group stage game against South Africa who went ahead to win an eighth straight continental championship in Accra, everyone was aware that all Uganda needed to do was work on how to minimize the damage but the side from the Madiba Land would condemn the latter to a whooping 10-00 defeat.
“Oh my God! South Africa outplayed us,” exclaimed Nsereko who went ahead to note that; “things wouldn’t go away at all but we never wanted to concede double figures.”
Uganda women’s side finished last in their group and would later seek an absolution in the placement fixtures, an absolution that would never come as the side dropped maximum points in all their games at a week-long tournament.
In the first classification game (5/8), Uganda lost 4-0 to Nigeria and according to Nsereko, the early goals derailed his side’s steam but they put in a better shift.
In the final placement game (7/8), Uganda came closest to earning a point at the event but again emerged losers after Zambia beat them 2-1 to cap a tough debut for the side from the Pearl of Africa.
Albeit a disastrous display, Nsereko says that the team has a bright future for his side was one of the youngest at the tournament with an average age of about 22.05. He hopes that the group is kept together for the near future engagements.
Nsereko adds that a week-break taken by the team days to travel could have made players develop heavy feet but the pre-tournament drills the team had were almost enough.
At the same event, Africa Hockey Federation (AfHF) in recognition of the steps of progress taken by the Uganda Hockey Association awarded the local governing body of the game with the 2022 AfHF Development Award.
Nsereko, who coaches hockey at school level says that he wasn’t shocked with the above development saying that institutions of learning are seriously embracing the game with some even participating in the league, though he wants more to be done to enhance grass roots development.
For now, Nsereko has his sight set on coaching hockey in schools and his engagements at club levels but hopes to retain his role at the national team in the next engagements.