By Joan Cate
Fans In Uganda Disappointed after World Cup loss to Argentina.
Fans of the French team gathered at the Alliance Française in Kampala on Sunday evening to watch the nail-biting final match against Argentina.
Over 200 fans, mostly French nationals, workers in French companies and Ugandans who love the French team, sat at the institute’s basement where the finale was being screened.
But screening delayed, with fans missing the first ten minutes of the game. Technical glitches at the start of the game made dozens of fans leave the basement for nearby bars and restaurants that were also screening the finale.
These fans returned as soon as the technical glitches had been handled at the basement, afterall it was the official venue for the French embassy.
Some of the fans donned jerseys for France while others wore jerseys and t-shirts in celebration of top scorer Kylian Mbappé.
The fans were on the edge of their seats at the school’s basement following Lionel Messi’s penalty kick goal in the 23rd minute and Angel Di Maria’s goal thirteen minutes later (the 36th minute).
By Half time, the fans seemed to have given up, thanks to the zero attempts to score by the French team.
“Two Ugandans who support Argentina joined the French fans at the basement shortly before the start of the second half. French fans watched the first twenty minutes of the second half in silence.” One of them told our reporter,
“We are dead. No goals on target. No shots. And four Argentine players are tight- marking our golden boy Mbappé.” But his neighbour, a 50-year-old man from Nice, France rebutted,
“We still have a chance. Let’s hope that the team closes the gaps in defence and scores goals too.”
The 50-year-old man was elated when Mbappé scored back-to-back goals in the 80th and 81st minutes to level the game which went into extra time.
The fans, including under ten-year-olds, waved the French flag high and then a 50 year old man went wild in the abasement. Some fans jumped, others clapped while others remained in their seats after Mbappé’s two goals. The two Argentina fans remained seated, and stayed glued to the screen.
But the excitement of Mbappé’s fans was cut short when Messi struck again with a goal in the 109th minute.
Mbappé tied the match again at 3-3 with a penalty kick goal at the 118th minute.
In the penalty shootout, Argentina beat France 4-2 to win the south American country its third World Cup trophy.
The two fans for Argentina left the basement ten minutes after the penalty shootout. The basement was dead silent. French fans were in shock and some shed years.
Stephanie and his friend could hardly speak after the match.
They however lauded the French team for fighting to the very last minute of the match.
Stephanie, a football commentator in France, noted that the team was hit by an injury crisis.
“The team struggled right from the group stage because over six players sustained injuries before or during the World Cup,” Stephanie added, ”
Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, Christopher Nkunku and Karim Benzema got injured before this World Cup tournament. So our sqaud performed poorly because of injured players before or during the World Cup like Lucas Hernandez who sustained an injury in the first match.”
He is however optimistic about the team’s performance in the future because the sqaud still qualified for the final and defended their 2018 title to the closing minutes of this year’s final.
“We came up from nowhere and equalised despite the absence of our original six players in the starting line. We wanted to win but you know that aything can happen in penalty shootouts.”
Stephanie adds that Mbappé has more chances for World Cup glory unlike Messi who only won one trophy in five World Cup tournaments.
“This could be Messi’s last World Cup. So it’s ok. Mbappé’ won in his first world Cup appearance and still has two or more world Cup tournaments to participate in and we are very confident that France will win.”