Uganda men’s national hockey team, Hockey Cranes lost 9-1 to Egypt in the semifinals of the Paris 2024 Olympics Qualifier in Pretoria, South Africa on Friday, a result that ended their hopes of making it to next year’s Olympics. Only the champion in both categories (men and women) will get a slot at next year’s event.
Uganda went into the game as underdogs with Egypt coming into this one with a perfect record while Hockey Cranes needed more than a miracle to stay alive in the competition.
Uganda set up ultra-defensively and it was until the 15th minute that the deadlock was broken when Ahmed Elganaini handed the Egyptians the lead in the 15th minute of play via a penalty corner.
In the second quarter, Egypt ran in there more goals. Hossameldin Ragab slotted in a field goal in the 21st minute to double his side’s lead before Mostafa Mansour scored a penalty shot three minutes later. In the 26th minute, Elganaini scored his second and a fourth for his team and the Hockey Cranes struggled to contain the Egyptian charge.
Egypt scored more two goals in the third quarter with Ahmed Gamal and skipper Amr Sayed scoring field goals in the 37th and 45th minutes respectively.
Gamal earned himself a brace in the 47th minute when he slotted home a field goal. Mahmoud Mamdouh opened his account a minute later while Hossam Ghobran scored a ninth for Egypt in the 50th minute.
For the Hockey Cranes, there consolation goal came in the 57th minute thanks to Maxwell Mugisha’s field goal.
Hockey Cranes goalkeeper Richard Kaijuka noted that his side conceded a lot of goals because of lack of coordination and less team work in many areas.
“We can improve on this by having more training sessions together, getting to know each other better and that way we can do better in the future,” Kaijuka said.
Uganda will face Ghana in the men’s 3rd/4th position playoff while Egypt will take on hosts South Africa in the final in pursuit for a spot at the Olympics. Ghana lost 7-0 to South Africa in the other men’s semifinal.
While the Hockey Cranes may have fallen short, there’s hope that they will continue to work hard and build on this experience. With the next Olympic qualification tournament just a few years away, there is plenty of time to regroup and come back stronger than ever.