President Museveni handshakes Moses Magogo, the FUFA Presdident as Gianni Infantino looks on at Entebbe State House Credit: Kawowo Sports | AMINAH BABIRYE
[/media-credit] President Museveni handshakes Moses Magogo, the FUFA Presdident as Gianni Infantino looks on at Entebbe State House on Friday evening Credit: Kawowo Sports | AMINAH BABIRYE

It is a Friday evening and the beautiful setting sun is glowing over Lake Victoria, arguably Africa’s fresh largest water body.

Lake creatures, birds and day workers at Entebbe International Airport are retiring home for the long weekend.

Unusual of the normal routine at the lake side Airport, security is heavily beefed up and the mood pensive for one bold reason – the FIFA President Gianni Infantino is to visit the land locked country christened as the ‘Pearl of Africa’

Infantino, who was expected to set foot at Entebbe by 6 p.m came over two hours later.

At 8:50 p.m, an Executive Qatar Airlines air craft ascended from the Bussi area.

A smiling bald headed Italian cum Swiss alighted from the air craft accompanied by three other FIFA officials.

He was received by the FUFA President, Moses Magogo who was accompanied by his right hand men and servants of the game – Justus Mugisha (first Vice President), Agnes Mugena (Executive Committee Member), Humphrey Mandu (DeputyFUFA Chief Exxcutive Officer), Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic and Ahmed Hussein (FUFA publicist).

Infantino was then ushered to the VIP lounge at Entebbe International Airport where he briefly interacted with the FUFA delegation before he was driven to the nearly Entebbe State House where he met President Yoweri Museveni and other Government officials from the sports department and the Ministry of Education & Sports.

“You are warmly welcome to Uganda,” Museveni smiled as the two exchanged a firm handshake meanwhile maintaining the eye contact.

“Where are you from and how did you become the FIFA President?” the head of state inquired.

“I am half Italian, half Swiss. I was elected by the FIFA Member Associations in an election last year to head the world football. I am happy to meet you,” Infantino answered back.

Museveni reminded the football boss about his own glory days as a footballer as how he last played with Ban Ki Moon, the then United State Secretary General.

He also donated a portrait as he was playing football to a smiling Infantino as the Italian offered a FIFA branded souvenir to Museveni.

[/media-credit] Musevenii donated a portrait as he was playing football to a smiling Infantino as the Italian offered a FIFA branded souvenir to Museveni. Credit: Kawowo Sports | AMINAH BABIRYE

Infantino reminded the head of state how the full Government  backing can uplift the general development of the game especially with infrastructural development.

“Your country has a talented crop of players. You only need to develop the infrastructure. We as FIFA as also willing to offer any other assistance from technical help, logistics and some finances which are extended to all associations” Infantino noted.

Infantino then signed in the treasured visitors book only reserved for the heads of states who visit State House.

“You can sign in my visitors book for the presidents because you are also a president,” Museveni, who was in jovial moods stated as the Infantino signed before he was led to Kampala Serena Hotel.

At Serena, he interacted with all the FUFA Executive Committee members in a closed door meeting before a heartily photo session as he retired for sleep ahead of a hectic Saturday.

On Saturday, his second day in the country, he will meet the key stake holders of the game – Sponsors, Government officials, active and retired players, football delegates, fans before he will address a press conference at Hotel Sojovalo in Kampala.

He is also set to watch an U-17 game between KCCA Soccer Academy and Lweza Orange Brigade at the FIFA funded Phillip Omondi Stadium astro turf in Lugogo.

He will then commission over the official ground breaking of the FIFA funded Kadiba play ground in Mengo before engaging the media in the official closing press conference at Ivy’s Hotel in Kampala.

Infantino is set to depart later in the day at 15:00 hours for his continuing tour of Africa.

He becomes the first FIFA President to visit Uganda since the founding of FIFA 118 years ago.

David Isabirye is a senior staff writer for Kawowo Sports where he covers most of the major events.

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