The Nile River section in Cairo
  • AFCON 2019 (Group A)
  • Sunday, 30th June
  • Uganda Cranes Vs Egypt Pharoahs – Cairo International Stadium
  • Zimbabwe Warriors Vs Democratic Republic of Congo – 30th June Stadium
  • *Both matches kick off at 10 PM (East African Time)

As Uganda Cranes takes on the Egypt Pharaohs on Sunday night at the Cairo International Stadium during the AFCON 2019 group A duel, it is one game that a cross-section of people looks forward to.

For starters, these two countries will be completing their respective group matches as Zimbabwe Warriors also play the Leopards from Democratic Republic of Congo at the 30th June Stadium.

The Nile River section in Cairo

Egypt is fortunate that they come to this match having already qualified to the next stage, round of 16.

Uganda needs four scenarios to qualify themselves to the next round.

An outright victory, a draw and prayers that DR Congo draws or defeats Zimbabwe, will see Uganda Cranes through to the next round.

Lively Uganda Cranes fans at Cairo International Stadium with the treasured Uganda Cranes fans

Football aside, the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) has been optimally utilized as a great marketing gimmick to front the sports tourism industry for Uganda.

In particular, the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) also struck a deal with the Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) to further use the Uganda Cranes at AFCON promote the tourism interests of the country.

FUFA First Vice President Justus Mugisha (second left) displays the MOU signed with Lilly Ajarova (CEO, UTB)

As Egypt and Uganda battle on the front before over 75,000 spectators, the writing is on the wall that both countries share a great deal together.

In fact, it is a livelihood where life steams – The River Nile which generates from Uganda with the source in Jinja and the mouth in Egypt.

River Nile in Giza, Egypt. Hundreds of hotels and apartments are found in this place

The Nile is arguably the longest river in Africa and undisputably in the world with over 55 bridges and crossings across the areas where it traverses.

It is fresh and will forever define the benchmark of life not only in Uganda and Egypt but also, elsewhere in the countries where it has its drainage basin – Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Republic of Sudan, Eritrea and Egypt.

In fact the Nile is the primary water source of Egypt and Sudan.

In Egypt, it pours its fresh waters in the large delta and flows into the Mediterranean Sea.

Time over and again, Egyptian civilization and Sudanese kingdoms have depended on the river since ancient times.

Most of the population and cities of Egypt lie along those parts of the Nile valley north of Aswan, and nearly all the cultural and historical sites of Ancient Egypt are found along river banks.

The Uganda Cranes lineup that started against DR Congo.

Therefore, it goes without a saying, the unity fostered by football at the AFCON 2019 especially on the night when Uganda and hosts Egypt lock horns will exactly reciprocate the great spirit of brotherhood between these two countries.

On the match eve, I happened to have visited a friend who checked in at the lavish 5 star Great Nile Tower Hotel in Giza.

On my way to this hotel, I realized that the Egyptians have optimally utilized the Nile to perfection beyond the bare minimum.

There are over 30 international hotels and state of art apartments in Giza and New Cairo alone.

This should the trend wisely copied back home in Uganda to boost tourism within the country.

The Uganda National flag (second from right) has been promoted across Egypt through the duration of AFCON 2019

Similarly, the Government of Uganda ought to borrow a leaf from their Egyptian counterparts and make the Nile part in Uganda more attractive, worthy to lure as many local and foreign tourists as possible.

Fine, I am aware there are quite some tranquil localities as the Rumours at the Source Hotel in Jinja, the Source of the Nile Apartments and the like, there is need for more.

More tourists should be able to come and visit the source of the World’s longest River in Jinja.

By and large, football remains the key opener to such developments around the Nile.

Beside the Nile, there are lots of other potential tourism features as national parks, mountains and other highlands, lakes, animals and the rare plant species in the thick tropical rain forests.

Therefore Uganda versus Egypt will be far beyond the football but rather a potential tourism gimmick, with unquestionable abilities to bring in billions of foreign exchange for the two countries in the box.

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

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