Uganda cranes The second week since the Coast trip and the team is still reeling from the effects of the tournament or maybe they are just switching off into the festive mood. But who can blame them after a hard year of lockdowns, hard work conditions it is about time to have the “above the hip, kiss your nipples festivities.” With Uganda Cranes coming to Parklands the match had all the motivation required to boost attendance. The Cranes consisted of Ugandans playing in various levels of the league in the country and some retired professionals were to provide good competition for the team. Having lost last time out it was clear that victory was on the minds of everyone. As usual, Babu continued in goal, as Droopy and Rasco covered the fullback position. Kamdam an injury doubt stood firm with solid Steve the obvious partner as Izzoh waited his turn. PSC international Aboutrika was awarded his favored CDM position a position that has seen several pretenders to the throne. Against a highly competitive team, it was the best stage for Aboutrika to remind all pretenders to the throne who is the king as he faced an overly experienced Uganda team. In support was in form Chubar who looked to continue his exploits from midfield while Senji Dr. capable of diagnosing and treating any position in the field started as a ten to support Coach Doobiz. On the wings were Tusker Tiger and Ericko looking to bring in width to the game. On paper, the squad was extremely strong and it was expected that the team would bounce back to winning ways. However, it was the team’s poor training habits that came to haunt PSC as the Cranes took firm control of the match building easily from the back, dominating and causing problems for PSC's backline. On the other hand, PSC it was a struggle to string three consecutive passes as the front four found themselves chasing the ball but not ending at the end of any. A usually composed backline was being breached at will as the halfway offside trap was not being effective with the team never having possession of the ball and on the back foot. With the Cranes enjoying the bulk of possession the defense found themselves being breached with their offside trap was far from perfect. It was under these circumstances that a Cranes' move from the midfield releasing their right-back to curve a decisive ball to the middle of the defense. The center backs stood still given the offside, only for a second Cranes player to steal behind them from the midfield. A controversial offside decision, PSC players stopped playing and instead turned on the referee in complaint. The anger-boiling players went after the referee who had failed to stop play, on the other end the Cranes player continued his run towards Babu who had also joined in protest isolated with nobody back to assist. The Cranes player had an easy time in looping over the goalkeeper the ball hitting the top of the bar and bouncing off the goal line. Frustrated Babu threw back the ball to Cranes player who raced back to the center celebrating the goal. The second protest by PSC ensured that the ball had not crossed the goal line for the goal. PSC felt hard done by both decisions; the poor offside decision and the decision to award a goal that had not crossed the line however, in a match that there is no linesman, VAR, or goal-line technology a referee cannot get every decision right. Babu’s decision to give back the ball to the Cranes player sealed the fate on whether the ball crossed the goal line or not. Assuming it had not crossed the goal line the first reaction would have been to catch the ball and find a way of restarting play from the back or a quick counterattack. The referee being wrong in the offside decision was met by significant protests bordering on abuse a habit that has been significant in training making it difficult even for volunteer referees in training. Protests, surrounding, pushing, and fighting for favorable decisions have been a mainstay in practices and this was a form of intimidation that was transferred to the game. Effectively, a vice that had become the norm emerged. the team was caught in twos protest the goal or the offside, both stood. 1-0 down the game restarted, PSC looking far better after conceding. Aboutrika having the time of his life pulling strings from deep as his successful passing were complimented by hard tackling against former Gor ace Ivan Anguyo. Aboutrika gave a new meaning to the phrase “he enjoys tackling even more than he enjoys scoring.” Old school like his gleaming Jordan shaved head that reflected the green pitch, he was the only one emerging from the fifty-fifty balls, winning and distributing the ball with Chubar and Ericko being key beneficiaries. The shift increased Parklands drew a foul outside the 18 areas with the referee’s confusion again coming into play as he pointed to the penalty spot. Protests from the Cranes were not heard as Chubar took up shape to take the equalizing penalty. The referee’s confusion is final and so is Chubar’s penalty-taking as he sent the goalkeeper the wrong way equalizing the game. 1-1. For every question that PSC asked the Cranes had an answer, as they stepped up gear chasing another goal. Anguyo sent a freak free-kick but Babu was at hand to parry it away and recover to send the rebound for a corner. As the attacks mounted, dependable defender Kamdam was lost to his recurring injury as he was hooked off for Gitau. The composed Cranes center back made a mockery of Doobiz throughout the game and the chief architect in initiating moves from the back was proving difficult to contain and it was no surprise as his inspired run into midfield resulted in him pulling of CM Punk’s famous wrestling move “Go to sleep”. Dribbling from the back, he sent the first striker to the Parklands floor, the second midfielder, a winger, and a defender leaving a chain of players kissing the pitch. He squared in the ball but the recovering defenders were at hand to thwart the attack. A move that had opposition players on the bench cheering not realizing they were to enter the match in the second half. "mwenzako akinyolewa kichwa chako kitie maji" Smelling blood the Cranes piled up more pressure and almost got ahead as Babu was called to make a point-blank save resulting in a corner kick. However, you can knock as many times before you are told to enter. “Hayawai hayawai huwa.” The Cranes beat the offside trap to score a second goal, this time there was no protest among the PSC squad as the team trooped back to the halfway line. Things turned for the worst Senji Dr. was the second player to be subbed off as the intensity of the Ugandans proved overwhelming. Saved by the bell, the halftime whistle was blown. The Ugandan goalkeeper must have regretted not bringing the Ugandan Nation newspaper to catch up on Museveni and Spice Diana as he had no work to do remaining untested in several lengths of the match. The lack of serious practice was evident in the first half with the team unable to string passes to create any goal. The team looked like they had never played together before, unnecessary dribbling with no end product and guesswork passing. With a trend of players arriving late for practices with the most session starting at 6 pm and ending by 6:45 when darkness sets it was not a surprise that two players were subbed off before 30 minutes of the match ended. The second half commenced with changes riddled in as Lefty was deployed at right-back, and Ogoche for Erico as Doobiz shifted to the wing and Rasco to left-back. Further changes, rang as Johnny was thrown in for Doobiz as the momentum shifted back to PSC. Johnny immediately set himself the task of neutralizing the ball-playing center back a move that cut all the play for PSC. Ogochee returned to right-back as Yegotov joined in attack to look for an equalizer versatility maestro Brian Yego entered for Tiger. The substitutions were effective as PSC was mounting a comeback and it was just a matter of time before the elusive goal came. Mansoni was brought in for Steve and almost made an immediate impact his Cruyff turn took out the two center backs and with only the goalkeeper to beat took out a shot but age is not a number. Often said head down when taking a shot to keep it low, but such skills require years of training to make it naturally occurring, or else you can injure your back. In a choice between hitting the neat or breaking his back, Mansoni chose the former aiming for the rugby sticks proving that post-header can be applied in a real game situation as he hit the upper rugby post. Even in rugby rules that is not considered a foul and with a lack of English or Swahili words can best be described as “Ywora nena” best interpreted as my-in-law come see me. Thus, sending a message to a distant relative to come to see the world wonder. Ogochee flourishing on the right was overlapping and sending the crosses into the box. His well-taken corner was almost headed in by Gitau as the Ugandan Cranes keeper continued to remain untested. Lefty who had taken a significant amount to settle won a ball from the left squaring it off to Aboutrika who played in Chubar, allowing him to turn and pass to Johnny who took out two players but delayed in shooting, with his eventual shot blocked but falling to Chubar who controlled it with his right and squaring it off with a well-placed left-foot shot to the back of the net. New energy was required as two-goal hero Chubar was hooked of for experienced midfielder Zlatan. Zlatan almost had an immediate impact skipping past a defender's challenge and with only the onrushing goalkeeper to beat. There are two-footed players and there are those like me who only use the left leg to climb into bed, and Zlatan added his name to the list as he told his feet to chip the ball over the goalkeeper, but the foot only aware of its bedroom duties was unwilling to cooperate. “Akili inataka lakini mwili haikubali” the brain is willing but the body is unwilling. His shot caressed the goalkeeper’s chest going out for a throw-in. The momentum was still with Parklands, Johnny winning a foul inside the box but the referee looking to reprise his first-half mistake only gave a free-kick. Johnny stood up to take it deflecting against the wall and on the path of Masoni but he was unable to stub it home. PSC lost chances were to come to haunt the team as the tired Ugandan team ranked up changes while PSC's lack of fitness proved their underbelly. Having started in high energy, the team was unable to maintain the gusto as Uganda stepped up, winning the ball from deep and launching a counterattack. A cut back from the right found Anguyo in no man’s land as he had the easiest of tap-ins. 3-2. The goal immediately caused a disoriented team to crumble as players launched scathing attacks on each other this time unable to shift blame to the referee. Enjoying the confusion Uganda strung a second move and had the ball once more in the net. 4-2 killing any morale and effort for a comeback. Heads dropped as the team accepted defeat as Uganda with the Cranes enjoying a possessive game as they awaited the final whistle like a bachelor waiting for morning to escort a damsel to the stage. Aboutrika flourishing in midfield could feel hard done by the scoreline but not his play having enjoyed a personal battle in the middle of the pack. Having had to deal with three quality midfielders while winning 100% of his tackles and having a 95% pass accuracy the man who played the full two hours must have revived his days in the highest division as the often quiet man was more fired up after the game than ever before with a gleam of a killer in his eyes. The man of the match would have anticipated a better result with the shift he pulled. Chubar would also not be sleeping easy having scored two goals, while Johnny having been significant in the second half may have wished to have joined Lutta in Memphis instead of enduring a cruel loss. Gitau and Babu found themselves in the wrong job description as they tried to save a fish from drowning. Steve and Droopy would probably be contented in their various abodes having done their usual shift and left with their pride intact when the tide was with PSC. Tidy at the back and with very few mistakes who’s to blame them. Quick recovery to Kamdam and others still on the injury table. On to the next one, with the next game starting in the practices, discipline in training equals discipline on the game.